Hunter-Gatherer European Had Blue Eyes and Dark Skin

Rebecca Morelle, BBC, January 27, 2014

Scientists have shed light on what ancient Europeans looked like.

Genetic tests reveal that a hunter-gatherer who lived 7,000 years ago had the unusual combination of dark skin and hair and blue eyes.

It has surprised scientists, who thought that the early inhabitants of Europe were fair.

The research, led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, is published in the journal Nature.

The lead author, Dr Carles Lalueza-Fox, said: “One explanation is that the lighter skin colour evolved much later than was previously assumed.”

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Two hunter-gatherer skeletons were discovered in a cave in the mountains of north-west Spain in 2006.

The cool, dark conditions meant the remains (called La Brana 1 and 2) were remarkably well preserved. Scientists were able to extract DNA from a tooth of one of the ancient men and sequence his genome.

The team found that the early European was most closely genetically related to people in Sweden and Finland.

But while his eyes were blue, his genes reveal that his hair was black or brown and his skin was dark.

“This was a result that was unexpected,” said Dr Lalueza-Fox.

Scientists had thought the first Europeans became fair soon after they left Africa and moved to the continent about 45,000 years ago.

“It has been assumed that it is something that happens in response to going from Africa to higher latitudes where the UV radiation is very low and you need to synthesise vitamin D in your skin. Your skin becomes lighter quite soon,” explained Dr Lalueza-Fox.

“It is obvious that this is not the case, because this guy has been in Europe for 40,000 years and he still has dark skin.”

The hunter-gatherer’s genome also gave the team an insight into how humans had changed as they moved from foraging to farming.

The early European would have subsisted on a diet of mainly protein, and his DNA reveals that he was lactose-intolerant and unable to digest starch. These are traits that came after agriculture was adopted and people changed what they ate.

Commenting on the research, David Reich, from Harvard Medical School in the US, said: “The significance of this paper is that it reports the oldest European genome sequence reported to date–the first European genome sequence that predates the appearance of agriculture.

“The dark skin is a very interesting finding, as light skin is nearly universal across Europe today. These results suggest that the light skin seen across Europe today is a development of the last at least 7,000 years.”

He added: “It will be very interesting to see how general this result is across ancient pre-agricultural Europe once additional genome sequences become available.”

Early results of research that Prof Reich has been involved with were recently published on the biology preprint website and a paper has been submitted to a journal.

He has looked at the genomes of several hunter-gatherers and early farmers in Europe. This work suggests that present-day Europeans derive from three ancient populations of early inhabitants of the continent.


[Editor’s Note: The abstract from the study is below.]

Derived immune and ancestral pigmentation alleles in a 7,000-year-old Mesolithic European

Ancient genomic sequences have started to reveal the origin and the demographic impact of farmers from the Neolithic period spreading into Europe1, 2, 3. The adoption of farming, stock breeding and sedentary societies during the Neolithic may have resulted in adaptive changes in genes associated with immunity and diet4. However, the limited data available from earlier hunter-gatherers preclude an understanding of the selective processes associated with this crucial transition to agriculture in recent human evolution. Here we sequence an approximately 7,000-year-old Mesolithic skeleton discovered at the La Braña-Arintero site in León, Spain, to retrieve a complete pre-agricultural European human genome. Analysis of this genome in the context of other ancient samples suggests the existence of a common ancient genomic signature across western and central Eurasia from the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic. The La Braña individual carries ancestral alleles in several skin pigmentation genes, suggesting that the light skin of modern Europeans was not yet ubiquitous in Mesolithic times. Moreover, we provide evidence that a significant number of derived, putatively adaptive variants associated with pathogen resistance in modern Europeans were already present in this hunter-gatherer.

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  • benvad

    He ain’t black that’s for sure. He looks like a guy from Southern France, that’s all.

    These kooks make him sound like a full on Bantu, in their description. Good Grief!!

    • r j p

      Give him a shave and he will probably have a pale beard area.

    • GM

      You do know that’s not a picture of him, don’t you? It’s called an “artists impression”

      • benvad

        Of course i realize that Mr. smart ass, I was referring to all the insinuation of this cave creature being a 23 rebounds per game Bantu all star, OK?

      • benvad

        Maybe you should’ve taken over the Tonight Show instead of Fallon?

  • RebelliousTreecko

    No doubt some people will use this to claim that the indigenous Europeans are African (or something else) and that we have no claim to any land.

    • bilderbuster

      Even if you were to believe that the races separated long ago from one African race all this means is that Black is so nasty that it takes a hell of a long time to wash it out.

    • Karolina

      Already happened by the liberal idiots here:

      io9 . com / early – europeans-had-dark-skin-and-blue-eyes- 1509585826

      Apparently blue-eyed Negroids were the first Europeans… this is what the study proves from their perspective…. Why is it that these a-holes all the sudden become scientifically illiterate the moment there is a study concerning race?

      • NeanderthalDNA

        Well…isn’t this what we sort of already knew? That lighter skin evolved to allow more vitamin D production in environments where vitamin D providing foods were lacking?

        I guess it’s just the recentness in time that seems surprising.

        • Karolina

          I don’t doubt the validity of the study; I doubt the way liberal sites are interpreting it.

          Yes, Europeans originally had dark skin… but I doubt they looked like Blacks as early as 8,000 years ago!

          The picture of the Spaniard male from the study shows him as a dark-skinned Caucasian with blue eyes; he’d fit right in somewhere in a few places in the Middle East (other than the blue eyes). On the other hand, the liberals on the site I posted (not to mention many others) have a Black as a representation of what Europeans looked like 8,000 years ago.

          • NeanderthalDNA

            Good find. Not all dark skinned folks are Bantus. Nor ever were they.

            I’ve heard that there are significant parts of the Bantu genome that are suspected as being unidentified archaic, like up to 30% or more.

            This sounds very plausible to me, in that the Bantu darkskin type is very different from others.

            No homo erectus DNA has been sequenced yet has it? They appear to have inhabited warm regions.

      • John Ulfsson

        They weren’t negroid skeletal-wise; they look like robust, cro-magnon type Finns / Swedes, the article says that aside from the swarthy skin, that he’s otherwise closest to Finns / Swedes.

        • Karolina

          I know… I was being sarcastic.

          The picture clearly shows a Caucasoid appearance, while liberals are posting images of Black appearances.

        • Katherine McChesney

          Wonder if their ‘mouth barrel’ was more prominent like blacks facial feature today.

  • Luca

    Well I don’t think it’s all about diet, there are people in India who have been virtual vegetarians for ages and they are quite dark,

    My theory is they traded melanin for brains..

    • Jim Barlow

      As we progressed into Europe we encountered less sunlight, so we lost pigment to better promote vitamin D biosynthesis from the available sunlight.

      We also met new challenges which put EVOLUTIONARY pressures on our ancestors to evolve/ become more intelligent / domesticate animals / create shelter / create calculus (unlike other species that flopped in their own filth elsewhere…)

      This skeleton was found in spain, which is closer to the equator (thus more sunlight) and so does not seem relevant at all.

      • Edruezzi

        Calculus is less than three hundred years old and has at any given time since then been mastered by only a small minority of the population, as a visit to any American high school would quickly demonstrate. How it would have exerted selection pressures sufficient to alter the human gene pool baffles me.

        • Jim Barlow

          Sorry, I think what I wrote was misinterpreted!

          I’m claiming, and I think we all agree, that intelligence was selected for as Europe was cultivated and agriculture/society developed.

          Calculus was developed as an offshoot of, not only higher intellectual capacity, but also a society that gave individuals the function to do so (i.e. they didn’t have to spend all day as hunters and gatherers).

          I’m not implying that the ability to do calculus improves your reproductive odds!

  • Bantu_Education

    First I knew that they could tell skin colour from DNA. And to exactly what degree can they tell that? Maybe he just had a good tan as most Spanish do….lol. With King Tut they just said his closest living relatives are in NW Europe (and specifically England) but they didn’t say whether he was white-skinned.

    • A good tan doesn’t change your DNA.

      • Bantu_Education

        That was a joke btw, hence “lol”.

    • Luca

      Tut looked like a modern day Egyptian.

      • Bantu_Education

        Only if you believe the recent PC reconstruction.

        • Luca

          You could be right, I Googled and found a photo of King Tut and he looked just like Steve Martin.

    • Edruezzi

      Hey, Bantu Education is a good moniker. Even a liberal has to agree that the Apartheid policy of not giving blacks education beyond primary school probably suited the African. Africans have no use for abstract thought. A 4th grade education is about all the African society demands. They don’t need people studying Hamiltonians.

    • Edruezzi

      Look at a map of the world. The Americas were sealed off to humans, and even Catarrhini, up to the entry of the ancestors of the Native Americans to the region around 20,000 years ago. All the rest of the Old World is tropical or too frigid except for a peninsular region of Eurasia that juts upward into the North Atlantic and that is warmed somewhat by the Gulf Stream (ie Europe). The humans who established themselves there lost their original complexion, a trait controlled by variation in at most 3 to 4 genes. The map of the continents and their dispositions therefore explain skin color distribution around the world.

  • Daniel Schmuhl

    Even though extreme depigmentation didn’t come until later, these hunter-gatherers in Europe already had a mostly Caucasian phenotype.

    I know this will probably make some of the Nodicists on here mad but it seems like Earlier European people were dark like Mediterraneans.

    • Franklin_Ryckaert

      According to Carleton Coon Nordics are only more depigmentated and more robust Mediterraneans.

  • Spartacus

    He doesn’t look African to me…

    • NeanderthalDNA

      All goes to show that lighter skin is in some way an improvement. Homo Sapiens evolved from more primitive apes. Modern Europeans evolved from more primitive Europeans.

      No biggy, but interesting.

      • Tim_in_Indiana

        Yes, it shows that light skin is a sign of more advanced evolution.

        • tlk244182

          light skin, the British Empire, the space shuttle,…But seriously, if white skin is only 7000 years old, I’m putting head in the oven right now.

        • Edruezzi

          The concept of advancement in evolution is not scientifically valid. Even it had that kind of validity a finding of this type does not demonstrate in any way that the trait is more advanced.

    • Jim Barlow

      He’s not – we evolved separately from africans for >60,000 years. We also intermixed with other races, such as the Neanderthals, that had even further time to evolve on their own out of Africa. This creates tremendous difference in our genetic backgrounds that the MSM is trying to downplay with this BS research.

      • Edruezzi

        I think the purpose of the research was to show the recentness of the changes in skin color. There is a lot more to genetics than skin color.

        • Jim Barlow

          I completely agree. I believe that skin color change did not occur “all at once” 60k years ago. However, the fundamental differences between us occurred, and have continued to accumulate, over a very long period of time.

          I believe that this research was idolized by the MSM in an attempt to minimize our differences as being less, or more recent.

  • David Ashton

    You can be pretty certain that any anthropological discovery will be given a PC spin for the gullible sheeple.

    • Daniel Schmuhl

      Yes, a lot of Afro-centrists and liberals will take this and run with it.

      • David Ashton

        Skull formation is what matters most, but that is avoided.

      • NeanderthalDNA

        Certainly Stupidity and Hatred will latch onto this and misinterpret the sweet bejebus out of it.

  • bigone4u

    Using the word “dark” to describe the caveman’s skin is too vague for my scientist’s mind. How dark is dark? I see “black Dutch” and “black Germans” around here all the time, so dark skin is not that rare among white men and women whose ancestors came from Europe. Thus, this study, while adding to our knowledge, is not quite so revolutionary as the scientists want us to think. In fact, it smells a little too PC to me–you know, whites were still dark until recently, thus race is a social construct.

  • Evette Coutier

    Two skeletons are hardly conclusive for the entire northern hemisphere of Europe.

    • Erasmus

      The gods of PC would like you to think two examples are.

  • Romulus

    This study doesn’t prove jacksh*t!
    It only proves that a meditteranid was found in a cave 7000 yrs ago. Oceans were not an impediment to movement, for one. Secondly, the individual most likely emigrated via the coastline. Even as Egypt was being built, the Nords were already present in central and northern Europe. This study is an exercise in scientific speculation and not concrete fact of Mediterranean Northmen.
    A quick google on blondism demonstrates that even lady SIF was a BLONDE and was misrepresented by haime(Jaime) Alexander in Thor. As was the Norse God Heimdall.
    Just another “study” wherein leftist idiots try to darken Europeans ancestry.

    • Sue

      Exactly what I was about to say. Thank you. This man has a tan.

      • Franklin_Ryckaert

        A tan is an acquired characteristic. Acquired characteristics don’t show in the DNA.

        • Sue

          Thank you. It was a joke. The man has white facial features and the “picture” has darker skin. Doesn’t mean it was like that at all. With the dishonesty thrown so easily about I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they meant the condition of the skin when they found it.

      • Edruezzi

        A tan wouldn’t show up in DNA.

        • Sue

          See above

    • bigone4u

      I was thinking along your lines too, but the story says he is from Swedish and Finnish stock. Thus, he must not be a Mediterranean. Not all Swedes are blond even though that’s the stereotype.

      • Romulus

        Respectfully, I disagree. All Swedes are not NOW blonde. The study would have more merit if an additional skeleton of equal age was found in Scandinavia.
        The actor John Saxon is not a Saxon. Diane Krueger is. Katherine heigal IS. LAURA Vandervoort IS. IF pretend that all migrants to north and central Europe are nordic, we will fall into the leftist trap that our differences are insignificant and open ourselves to more displacement and miscegenation.
        Incidentally, this is exactly what the true genomics of central Europe tried to rid themselves of last century.

  • Erasmus

    And as he advanced technologically his skin became white. What’s their point?

  • LHathaway

    I read something about this just today on Amazon. I didn’t read the source material only a readers review on Amazon. But she said she never knew before reading the book that she got her green eyes from Neandertals.

    Personally, I suspect all of this is bunch of mumbo-jombo, made up and presented for the sole purpose of influencing the reader. The entire ‘Neanderthal’ thing is likely a complete fabrication. It does frighten whites in Europe and in truth they are going to be the next ones in Europe that will fade out.

    • Bill

      You’re probably right. Archaeologists and historians aren’t “successful” until they make money from, and receive acclaim from, writing a book.

    • Edruezzi

      I’m kind of confused. A lot of the posters on Amren are ecstatic about the Neanderthal ancestry thing. You say it’s a fabrication. Liberals must be capable of incredible feats of intellectual gymnastics and of propaganda to be able to divide opinions so radically.

  • sbuffalonative

    They did a great job with the skeletal-facial reconstruction. The end result doesn’t look like an African.

    • Edruezzi

      You miss the point of the research. It’s kind of counterintuitive, as most good science is, but it really doesn’t matter what color he was. Having dark skin or any color of skin doesn’t make him less European.

      • sbuffalonative

        I believe you missed my point. The facial-skeletal reconstruction is definitely European. I never said otherwise. I was congratulating the forensic artist who clearly reconstructed a European face. I never said anything about his skin color. Regardless of how dark his skin may be in the reconstruction, the features are European.

  • Jim Barlow

    I believe the researchers took some “artistic liberties” with this data. There are many genetic factors that go into play into creating someone’s complexion, and as we know, whites themselves can run a spectrum of darkness.

    Their assumption of: “These results suggest that the light skin seen across Europe today is a development of the last at least 7,000 years.” is a likely over exaggeration, over extrapolation. Probably only gained traction in the MSM because its ‘evidence’ that our differences are only “recently skin deep”.

    None the less, the BRAIN is profoundly different between races, despite whatever the skin shows.

    • Edruezzi

      Paint him any color. It don’t matter. Africa will still be doomed.

  • rowingfool

    Paintings from Egyptian tombs are 5000 years old. They depict distinct differences in skin color between Egyptians and Nubians. This is simply unimpeachable evidence that casts doubt upon the theory presented by these authors. For their theory to be true, the color change would have had to have occurred sometime between 7000 and 5000 years ago and simultaneously across all of Europe and the Middle East. Blarney.

    • libertarian1234

      All liberals are liars.
      Some liberals lie more than others.
      If the facts don’t support their wannabe visions, they simply make up new facts then inanely try to sell them by way of mass propaganda.

      • Edruezzi

        I believe liberals are a little more sophisticated than that.

    • Franklin_Ryckaert

      The purpose of this scam (and a scam it surely is) is to spread the idea that “whiteness” is only a very recent phenomenon and therefore of only superficial importance. That can then be used to further the white genocide agenda by mass non-white immigration and miscegenation. Expect in the future more of such “discoveries”.

      The most probable scenario is that Cro-Magnon man (40,000 years old) both in the Middle East and Europe was originally at most as “dark” as your average modern Turk, but in Europe became lighter due to the climate. Even the European Neanderthalers are supposed to have been light skinned already.

      In this age of Cultural Marxism we can’t trust our scientists anymore.

      • LovelyNordicHeidi

        “Expect in the future more of such “discoveries”. […] In this age of Cultural Marxism we can’t trust our scientists anymore.”

        Franklin, I think you’re totally right about this. We should be more distrusting of articles like this one, otherwise we might fall in the traps that the cultural marxists have designed for us.

      • Edruezzi

        Neanderthals were very light skinned and some had red hair and freckles.

    • Edruezzi

      Actually, this may link up with the fact that Middle Easterners are dark. Europeans lost their dark coloring and Middle Easterners kept theirs.

  • slash345

    Looks white with a tan.

    Nothing concerning, just scientist trying to eliminate racism through biased propganda.

  • Whiteplight sees the Emperor N

    The book, “The Ten Thousand Year Explosion” has some interesting points to intersect with this.

  • Bossman

    Primitive man lived mostly outdoors during the summer months. A European of 7000 years ago would naturally have been darker than now.

  • Sharps Rifle

    In short, he’d have resembled a bearded, blue-eyed American Indian, not someone from Africa. I have no problem with looking like an American Indian, since the ones I’ve known have been good people and good Americans.

    • NeanderthalDNA

      Sharps rifle eh?

      I’ve always been fascinated by LeMat’s revolver…

      “The LeMat revolver was a .42 or .36 caliber cap & ball black powder revolver invented by Dr. Jean Alexandre LeMat of New Orleans, which featured an unusual secondary 20 gauge smooth-bore barrel capable of firing buckshot. It saw service with the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War of 1861–65.”

      Nine round cylinder, cap and ball. Modern reproductions use cased ammo.
      Sounds like a nice “big iron” for home defense to me. And when you run out of ammo (nine shots and a .20 g shot gun – good luck with that) it’s heavy enough to deliver a brutal pistol whipping.

  • Massif1

    It’s a white guy that has taken a shower. Doesn’t look black at all.

  • Karolina

    By dark you mean Arab/Semite dark, not Black dark… I think you should convey that in your title!

    No surprise, seeing as how the Neolithic migrations were only 8,000 years ago… Until then, Middle Eastern Caucasoid’s and the ancestors of European Caucasoid’s lived in the same region.

  • Bill

    Sure would be nice if they had more specimens to test than just two. Also, northwest Spain is relatively close to Africa……….And why didn’t North American Eskimos turn White?

  • NM156

    Where’s this quasi-African we were led to expect? I’m imagining this white guy on a worksite ca. 1977, wearing a flannel shirt and work boots.

  • wildfirexx

    LOL…Just because one ancient tooth found in Spain claims that the DNA taken from the tooth shows that the man has dark hair and dark skin , doesn’t necessarily assume that every other european at that time had the same dark complexion.
    Even if they did, this dark face as shown has all characteristics of caucasian features including blue eyes. No asian or negroid race there. So what’s all the fuss ?
    Until they discover further evidence to support their claim, nothings really changed.
    Plus they would have to prove what caused the last human evolutionistic change that resulted in light hair and light skin. I thought that the darker skin pigment is dominate to the lighter skin pigment, so then why do most caucasians still have white skin?

  • gregCall

    Interesting that they say White skin didn’t appear until around seven thousand years ago, coincidentally the same time most if not all human progress seems to have begun.

  • je suis paganisme

    Tom Selleck

  • Budd Smith

    Blacks have white skin under their fingernails, back of hands, and bottom of feet. Wouldn’t this indicate they first had white skin, then evolved black skin to suit their environment? Maybe as protection from the equatorial sun?

  • John Ulfsson

    ‘Dark’ is incredibly vague. We know that the neolithic food producers came from the middle east, so he was probably complexioned close to that. All we know is that he isn’t fair skinned.

  • Conrad

    Darker than what, would be my question. Isn’t interesting that these ‘scientist’ are all excited over the possibility of Europeans having dark skin, BUT fail to mention brain size and other differences?!

  • Edruezzi

    It’s just a scientific article, folks. Nothing to get your panties in a bunch because of. It explains why the earliest dated cave paintings in Europe feature dark skinned people.

  • Edruezzi

    I first saw this on Nature, the BBC and Science Daily websites and kept wondering when Amren would pick up on it. Well, here we are. I think this demonstrates the technical complexity of the entire human evolution issue, and the fact that nature always exceeds our imaginations.
    I might also add that regardless of this prehistoric homeboy’s skin color he was still 60000 years removed from the Bantus, so this finding makes only “cosmetic” changes to the race debate.

  • Romulus

    Amazing! A bit of honesty from a member of the tribe. The Rus tribe of SCANDINAVIA founded Russia and NOT Jews. So as you have pointed out, a Russian Jew, is a Jewish person residing in and practicing Russian culture. As we move forward in time Frome the tribes emigration to Russia circa the Early 1300’s, Russia’s culture is NOW an almagamation of great Russians and meditteraneans( the eastern kind). Christianity, of course being a Jewish creation.

    • Katherine McChesney

      Christianity was never a Jewish creation. It came about when Jesus Christ walked the earth. Jews, with the exception of converts like his apostles, have always denied Him as the Messiah.

  • RyanP

    This is why we should not get too hung up on skin color in itself. If the only difference between whites and blacks was skin tone then AmRen would not exist. We would be living together in peace and harmony already. It is all the other differences that cause problems between races, not skin pigmentation.

  • Katherine McChesney

    His hands would bear the same two-tone color.

  • Romulus

    Very well said. I’d give you more upvotes if you keep the history going.
    I’ve said as much last year.

  • De Doc

    Interestingly the Y-DNA of the specimen was reported as C1a2, while the mtDNA was U5b. Y haplogroup C is very rare among modern Euro males today and was always thought to be an East Asian clade, however it is closer to the basal out of Africa haplogroups and this sample shows that it was present throughout Eurasia even into the Mesolithic. The mtDNA is definitely a Paleolithic European marker, so might we have here relic haplogroups of the earliest humans who developed in Europe out of Africa?

    The skin color is of little consequence from this pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer human, since radical dietary changes had not yet taken place and allowed for pigmentation changes related to VitD deficiency. Recall that Indigenous Siberians and Arctic peoples have darker skin, probably related dietary practices that precluded any large scale agriculture. Oetzi is a Neolithic sample and was lighter skin color than this Spanish finding and we know grains were an integral part of his diet. Even so, this latest discovery seems to have a European looking face, even if dark skinned.