The genome sequence of a man who lived in what is modern Spain 7,000 years ago reveals that European hunter-gatherers were dark-skinned and blue-eyed.
Two Mesolithic male skeletons, labeled La Brana-1 and La Brana-2, were discovered in a deep subterranean cave at the La Brana-Arintero site in León, Spain, in 2006. The individuals were dated to about 7,000 years ago.
Researchers led by Dr Carles Lalueza-Fox of Evolutionary Biology Institute in Barcelona focused first on La Brana-1 because it was in a better condition.
Surprisingly, an analysis of the hunter-gatherer’s genetic material showed that he had blue eyes.
“But the biggest surprise was to discover that this individual possessed African versions in the genes that determine the light pigmentation of the current Europeans, which indicates that he had dark skin,” said Dr Lalueza-Fox, who is the senior author of a paper published in the journal Nature.