Friday, February 01, 2008

Semi-non-archaeology Genetic mutation makes those brown eyes blue
People with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor, according to new research.

A team of scientists has tracked down a genetic mutation that leads to blue eyes. The mutation occurred between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago, so before then, there were no blue eyes.

"Originally, we all had brown eyes," said Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen.

Hawks is quoted in the article, but there's nothing on his blog about it yet. He mentions that it ought to have selective value since it became fixed in the population. Eye color seems a bit odd thing to have selective value, so I wonder if this is part of a cascade of other traits concerned with melanin production generally. Some suggestion has been made that us whiteys arose after moving to northern climes in order to maximize vitamin D production, but humans have been up north for much longer than 6-10k years. So who knows, maybe it's a trait that does have some selective value but could only arise once other related changes were already in place? Very interesting piece of data.