The research, led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, is published in the journal Nature. The lead author suggested that the lighter skin color evolved much later than researchers had previously assumed for ancient people.
Found in 2006, the two hunter-gatherer skeletons lay undisturbed in a cave in the mountains of north-west Spain. The cool, dark conditions meant the remains were remarkably well preserved. Scientists were able to extract DNA from a tooth of one of the ancient men and sequence his genome.
The team found that the early European was most closely genetically related to people in Sweden and Finland. His genes revealed the dark skin and blue eyes. Up till then, scientists thought the first Europeans became fair soon after they left Africa and moved to the continent about 45,000 years ago. But after settling in Europe and adjusting to the cooler conditions for 40,000 years, he still had dark skin.
So much for mixing the races. We're merged already—our skin simply adjusting to the climatic conditions. It certainly knocks the racists' theory of superiority. Sitting at a desk all day, my skin needs more vitamin D. So I'll get paler, while the dark-skinned inhabitants of England will gradually become paler too. Fascinating.
There's something compelling about an image of a dark-haired woman with blue eyes. Not just because I had the same characteristics in my youth either. Many people have expressed the same opinion. My heroine in the novel Still Rock Water and the sequel Tidal Surge looked the same. Long dark hair, olive skin and piercing blue eyes, drawing you in to her soul.