Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hunters from northern Spain had dark skin and blue eyes - Spiegel Online

Barcelona – He had dark skin and dark hair, but blue eyes. The read Spanish scientists from the genome of a man who lived as hunters and gatherers in what is now northern Spain over 7000 years ago. The results of the genetic analysis shows that the Europeans were at that time not yet everywhere light-skinned, the researchers write Carles Lalueza-Fox from the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva in Barcelona in the journal “Nature”. Also interpreted the results indicate that the eye color had changed sooner than could the skin pigments.

examined genome derived from a skeleton, which had been, together with a second skeleton found in 2006 deep in a cave of the Cantabrian Mountains in Léon in northern Spain. The uniform, cold ambient temperature at 1500 meters above sea level, the bones and teeth were well preserved. The skeletons were La Braña 1 and 2 baptized, named after the archaeological site of La Braña-Arintero. The researchers took samples from a tooth of La Braña 1 and were able to decipher its genome. It is according to information provided the first complete genome of a European from the period before the introduction of agriculture.

No milk, no crops

Not surprisingly for scientists, that the man could digest starch bad and was lactose intolerant. The genetic makeup of people have adapted only in the course of agriculture in the diet with crops and milk, the researchers write.

However, the studied hunter-gatherers already had an immune system that is less susceptible to pathogens made him that are transmitted from animals. This could indicate that hunter-gatherers already had such genetic changes, although they held no cattle, highlight Lalueza-Fox and his colleagues. So far went Evolutionary biologists believe that these modern gene variants have only been introduced with the livestock.

The research team compared the genome with the past and present people. It turned out that the hunter-gatherers was related to a group of people that was once widespread throughout Europe and to Lake Baikal in Russia. The vote also consistent with findings of cultural objects, such as Venus figurines, which were found in an area from Western Europe to Siberia, the researchers said. The gene pool of this group could be partially preserved in present-day northern Europeans.


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