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Stone Age Spaniard had blue eyes, dark skin

Genetics of 7,000-year-old skeleton suggests pale skin came later

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1:00pm, January 26, 2014

THE BARE BONES  DNA from the skeleton of a Stone Age hunter-gatherer from northwestern Spain suggests blue eyes evolved before light skin did.

Blue eyes may have evolved before blond hair and pale skin, a genetic analysis of a 7,000-year-old Spanish skeleton suggests.

The Stone Age skeleton of a hunter-gatherer was found in 2006 in a cave at the La Braña-Arintero archaeological site in northwestern Spain. DNA from one of the skeleton’s teeth shows that the man, called La Braña 1, is genetically different from most present-day Europeans, Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona and colleagues report January 26 in Nature.

The hunter-gatherer was lactose intolerant and carried few copies of genes involved in breaking down starch. Those findings are further evidence that the ability to digest milk and starch probably evolved after the advent of agriculture.

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