Like our hair colour or height, our eye colour is one of the first things we learn about ourselves when we’re little. And since most people in the world have brown eyes, if you have blue eyes, you probably learned that you were pretty special.
And now, a study has revealed why your eyes are the colour they are. Apparently all people with blue eyes have a single common ancestor. Yep - just one.
The study by the University of Copenhagen found a genetic mutation which happened 6,000 to 10,000 years ago and determined the eye colour of all blued-eyed people today.
Professor Hans Eiberg from the study told Science Daily that originally, everyone had brown eyes, but that a genetic mutation affecting a gene in our chromosomes “turned off” the ability to produce brown eyes.
This gene affects our levels of melanin, which is what determines our eye, hair and skin colour. But for some reason this mutation just ended up altering our eyes rather than the whole package.
If that gene (called OCA2) was totally turned off, for example, it would cause albinism.
The reason scientists think it all goes back to one ancestor is that blue-eyed individuals only vary a little in the amount of melanin in their eyes - while brown-eyed people’s vary a lot more.
“From this we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor,” Professor Eiberg said.
“They have all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA.”
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