Everyone of us is made up of fifty percent dad and fifty percent mom. And that makes us twenty five percent each of their parents. Pretty quickly, our gene pool gets so deep that it is hard to imagine that any of us have a common family member at all.
But researchers have just discovered that every person on the planet that has blue eyes, is related to just one person. And this is an interesting story.
Anthropologists have been big beneficiaries of genetic research over the last twenty years or so. Now that we have developed a complete map of the human gene sequence, as well as new methods for extracting samples from older and older sources, Researchers are finally able to put a definitive narrative to the human story, right down to why some people have blue eyes.
Technically, there is no actual blue pigment as such in your eyes. Blue eyes are the product of a specific amount of the organic pigment Melanin, which is always light brown to black, and how light reflects off the iris, where the pigment resides.
But why do some of us have blue eyes and others do not? That is a question for the geneticists. To find out how blue eyes came about, they first had to figure out what gene determined eye color. Once they did that, they could look for that gene in previous generations and trace it back to its source.
Up until six to ten thousand years ago, every human being that ever lived had brown eyes. Then a gene, called OCA2, surfaced in a small population of humans in Europe. This mutation led to different shades of brown.
Knowing that this gene was the factor that determined eye color, researchers were then able to ask an even bigger question: who was the first blue eyed person? And as it turns out, not only did they solve that riddle, they also proved that everyone who has blue eyes today is family.
Ten years ago, scientists discovered another gene, HERC2, which specifically dictates the expression of blue eyes. The sample was taken from a prehistoric human man from Spain. Looking at samples from other prehistoric remains from Africa to Scandinavia, they were able to triangulate the first person who ever had blue eyes.
If everyone who has blue eyes could look at their family tree going back one hundred and twenty eight generations, they would all see the same great-great-great-great grandfather.
He was a Spaniard who lived right as humans were learning how to plant crops and tend herds. He would have lived in a village made out of rock, earth and wood. He would not have known a written language yet, but on the upside, dogs were already his best friend, so he was not lonely while he trekked across the Pyrenees mountains.
It is amazing to think how closely related we all really are. Now, who do we blame for being short and bald?
Have you ever built a family tree? How did that help you and your family gain a better insight to your history? Please share your stories with us here.