You probably don’t think about this too much, but your family tree doesn’t end at your great-grandparents, or even your great-great-great-great-GREAT-grandparents. Each of us is the result of uncountable couplings across millions of years, and trying to trace it all the way back is basically impossible.
But scientists now believe that they’ve uncovered at least a small portion of that great mystery, and it has to do with people who have blue eyes.
Sure, you probably know who your great-grandparents were, and maybe you even know who your great-great-grandparents were, but after that, it gets very complicated very fast.
This makes finding the origin of a particular trait like blue eyes almost impossible. But scientists now claim that they’ve uncovered at least one of these mysteries.
They believe that blue eyes may have originated in a single individual, specifically a European who lived between six and ten thousand years ago.
Humans are believed to have all possessed brown eyes back then, until a gene known as OCA2 began to cause changes in the amount of pigment produced in their bodies.
This led to different shades of brown eyes, and eventually different colors entirely.
But scientists were unable to uncover the origins of blue eyes in particular.
In 2006, the HERC2 gene was discovered in Spain in the well-preserved body of a Stone Age man.
Tests revealed the presence of both dark-skinned genes from Africa and genes found primarily in today’s Scandinavian population. It’s this unique mixture that scientists believe caused the first blue-eyed mutation.
According to Dr. Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, this is the oldest known occurrence of the gene, making this man the first of his kind… and the ancestor of all blue-eyed people today.
If you have blue eyes, you’re probably looking at a real-life great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grand-relative.
It’s really freaky to look at that face and know you might be seeing your actual ancestor. How cool is that?
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