A Stone Age man who lived about 7,000 years ago and whose buried bones were discovered in 2006 has turned out to be the earliest known person with blue eyes, a physical trait that evolved relatively recently in human history, a study has found. A DNA analysis of the man’s tooth has also revealed that although he was more closely related to modern-day Scandinavians that to any other European group, he had the dark-skinned genes of an African, though scientists do not know his precise skin tone.
The man, who was about 1.7m (5ft 7in) tall and aged 30-35, was a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer rather than a farmer. He did not have the “lactose-tolerance” genes that allowed him to digest milk as an adult – a key sign that he had little or no contact with domesticated livestock. His well-preserved skeleton was one of two discovered in 2006 in a deep cave system called La Braña-Arintero near León in north-west Spain, which is 1,500m above sea level and cold enough to limit the bacterial decay of DNA.
Dating has placed the skeletons in the middle of the Mesolithic period, which lasted between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago and represents the interlude between the older Palaeolithic and the more recent Neolithic, when agriculture and livestock farming spread from the Middle East and became widespread across Europe. Via First Ol’ Blue Eyes is 7,000 years old and lived in a cave