Thursday, January 31, 2008
Blue Eyed Mutants
Frank Sinatra, Gwyneth Paltrow, Christina Aguilera, Indigo Red, Paul Newman, Brad Pitt, and Adolph Hitler all have something in common - we are blue eyed mutants. And according Danish geneticist Hans Eiberg, we have a common baby blues ancester.
Originally, everyone had brown eyes, says Eiberg. Between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, a mutation occurred resulting in the first ol' blues eyes somewhere in the Black Sea area around modern-day Ukraine/Turkey and descendants migrated during the Stone Age into Northern Europe. The mutation Eiberg discovered in 1996, occurs in the OCA2 gene and is extremely specific and does not occur in people with brown eyes who lack this off-switch, while green eyes result from an entirely different gene pattern.
The OCA2 gene mutation restricts the eye's melanin production, thereby preventing the eyes from developing the original brown pigmented iris. Melanin is the stuff that gives hair, eyes, and skin their color. From fair haired, fair skinned Danes to Turks with dark hair, light skin to Jordanians with dark hair, dark skin, all people with blue eyes have exactly the same OCA2 mutation. Eiberg said, "I have analyzed 800 samples. Out of the 800, 799 eyes are the same." The Danish researcher told SPIEGAL ONLINE that the blue-eye mutattion was so specific, there was only one explaination, "There must be a common ancestor for people with blue eye color."
Possessing blue eyes bestows no paricular survival advantage any more than right- or left-handedness. But judging from the geographic spread of blue eyes from a single common ancestor, clearly blue eye color was of some mating advantage to the original blue eyed dude or dudette. Once blue eyes were united with blond hair, well...
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the
Further Adventures of Indigo Red.