A research led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain have established that ancient Europeans had blue eyes, dark hair and skin.
Scientists had thought the first Europeans became fair soon after they left Africa and moved to the continent about 45,000 years ago with far less light. However the new study published in the Sunday Journal by nature suggests that this change in skin colour happened much later than scientists expected.
The team studied the remains of the Mesolithic male, dubbed La Braña 1.They were found in 2006 in the La Braña-Arintero cave complex in northwest Spain. In the Nature paper, the researchers describe how they isolated the ancient DNA, sequenced the genome and looked at key regions linked to physical traits — including lactose intolerance, starch digestion and immune response.
The biggest surprise was that the genes linked to skin pigmentation reflected African rather than modern European variations.
That indicates that the man had dark skin, “although we cannot know the exact shade,” Carles Lalueza-Fox, a member of the research team from the Spanish National Research Council, said in a news release.
At the same time, the man possessed the genetic variations that produce blue eyes in current Europeans.