Scientists Discover Why People Have Blue Eyes

By : Alex Watt |


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If you’ve ever wondered why you have blue eyes, it turns out the answer lies in the Mesolithic period. Obviously.

You see, apparently everyone with blue eyes, from Cameron Diaz to Leonardo di Caprio, all have one thing in common – they’re all related to a man from around 7,000 years ago.

As reported by the Independent, that Stone Age man was the first person found to have the genetic mutation which causes blue eyes, with scientists stumbling across his well-preserved remains in a cave system in north-west Spain, in 2006.

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The study, published in the journal Nature in 2014, sequenced fragments of DNA extracted from the man’s tooth.

The tests showed that the man had the dark-skinned genes found in Africa, but was more closely related to modern-day Scandinavians than other Europeans, and had lived in the middle of the Mesolithic period.

The research also revealed that the man carried an unusual combination of genes for blue eyes and dark skin, and had lactose intolerance, to boot.

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Speaking when the study was published, Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, said:

The biggest surprise was to discover that this individual possessed African versions of the genes that determine the light pigmentation of the current Europeans, which indicates that he had dark skin. Even more surprising was to find that he possessed the genetic variations that produce blue eyes in current Europeans, resulting in a unique phenotype [physical type] in a genome that is otherwise clearly northern European.

Blue eyes in modern humans are related to the same mutation in a gene called HERC2. If you have this mutation in both copies of the chromosome, you will have blue eyes for sure. This was the case with this man, who is so far the oldest known individual with blue eyes.

So, basically, blue eyes are all the result of the same genetic mutation, and every single person with eyes like the ocean can trace their ancestry back to this one bloke from 7,000 or more years ago. Pretty badass!