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article imageSpanish Stone Age hunter-gatherer dark-skinned with blue eyes

By Anne Sewell     Jan 27, 2014 in Science
Barcelona - The 7,000-year-old remains of a Stone Age man were discovered in north-western Spain back in 2006. As part of an ongoing study to uncover the DNA of ancient humans in Europe, scientists have now established that he was both dark-skinned and blue-eyed.
The fossilized remains of the Stone Age man, dubbed La Braña 1, were found in a cave close to the north-western Spanish city of León in 2006.
The study has been conducted by Carles Lalueza-Fox, a researcher from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in collaboration with the Center for GeoGenetics (Denmark).
Scientists have been analyzing the man's tooth and have now determined that he was part of a different breed of man — closely related to the modern-day Scandinavians, but having the dark-skin genes of an African man.
Remains of a Stone Age man in Spain have been established as having blue eyes and dark skin.
Remains of a Stone Age man in Spain have been established as having blue eyes and dark skin.
CSIC Video Screengrab
Previously researchers had assumed that the blue-eyed gene had been brought to the European continent by foreign invaders around 5,000 years ago, but these new findings are telling a different and far more interesting story.
This new evidence suggested that Europe's early hunter-gatherers commonly had blue eyes, along with darker skin.
Lalueza-Fox said: "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, although we cannot know the exact shade."
Apparently while biologists have been unable to establish the precise skin tone the Stone Age man had, they did determine that he was lactose-intolerant. This reportedly shows that he was more likely to be a hunter-gatherer than a person living in contact with domesticated livestock.
The La Braña-Arintero site was discovered purely by chance in 2006. The site was excavated by Julio Manuel Vidal Encinas, archeologist of the Council of Castilla y León.
Scientists state that the "exceptional" preservation of the DNA of the remains of the two individuals (La Braña 1 and La Braña 2) found in the cave was due to the cave's location in a cold mountainous area with a steady temperature, 1,500 meters below the sea level.
More information can be found on the CSIC website (in Spanish).
Remains of a Stone Age man in Spain have been established as having blue eyes and dark skin.
Remains of a Stone Age man in Spain have been established as having blue eyes and dark skin.
CSIC Video Screengrab
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