Though it seems obvious, your family tree doesn’t end at your great-grandparents, or even your great-great-great-great-grandparents. Everyone is the result of an unknowable number of 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. Yeah, really.
If you’ve ever wondered how your eyes came to be so blue, then here’s your answer!
Sure, you can probably trace your heritage back your great-grandparents, and maybe you can even go back several generation past that. At some point, though, you’re certain to reach a dead end. The further you look into your family tree, the fuzzier things become.
This makes finding the origin of a particular family trait, like your height, the texture of your hair, or the color of your eyes, almost impossible. But scientists now claim that they’ve uncovered the secret to at least one of these confounding mysteries.
As it turns out, researchers believe that blue eyes may have originated from a single individual. More specifically, they understand that he was a European who lived between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago…
Up until that point, the majority of humans are believed to have all possessed brown eyes. That is, until a gene known to researchers as OCA2 began to cause changes in the amount of pigment produced in their bodies.
This pigmentation led to different shades of brown eyes, and over the course of many decades, eventually different colors entirely. These included the ones that you find in most humans today, like green, gray, and hazel. Still, it didn’t explain blue eyes.
Clearly, there was something peculiar going on, and scientists knew they’d need some luck if they expected to uncover the truth. As it just so happens, the big breakthrough they needed came in 2006…
Miraculously, a group of researchers discovered the HERC2 gene. It was found in Spain while examining a well-preserved body of a Stone Age man. They immediately began to run tests to uncover more information.
These tests revealed the presence of both dark-skinned genes from Africa and genes found primarily in today’s Scandinavian population. It’s within this unique mixture that scientists believe the first blue-eyed mutation emerged.
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 an ancestor of all blue-eyed people today.
So, if you are one of the millions of people who have blue eyes today, there’s a good chance you’re probably looking at a real-life great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grand-relative. How crazy is that?
It’s really freaky to look at that face and know you might be seeing your actual ancestor. Human history never ceases to amaze!
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