Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Old Blue Eyes

Actually... not so old.

From Science Daily, Blue-eyed Humans Have A Single, Common Ancestor
“Originally, we all had brown eyes”, said Professor Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a “switch”, which literally “turned off” the ability to produce brown eyes”. The OCA2 gene codes for the so-called P protein, which is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives colour to our hair, eyes and skin. The “switch”, which is located in the gene adjacent to OCA2 does not, however, turn off the gene entirely, but rather limits its action to reducing the production of melanin in the iris – effectively “diluting” brown eyes to blue. The switch’s effect on OCA2 is very specific therefore. If the OCA2 gene had been completely destroyed or turned off, human beings would be without melanin in their hair, eyes or skin colour – a condition known as albinism.
Evolution: it's happening now, as I write this. And this particular mutation is at most 10,000 years old...
The mutation of brown eyes to blue represents neither a positive nor a negative mutation. It is one of several mutations such as hair colour, baldness, freckles and beauty spots, which neither increases nor reduces a human’s chance of survival. As Professor Eiberg says, “it simply shows that nature is constantly shuffling the human genome, creating a genetic cocktail of human chromosomes and trying out different changes as it does so.”
Some of which have more interesting effects than others.


Glenn Ingersoll said...

For science class in junior high I remember looking really closely at my eyes. My mother said my eyes were blue. But when I leaned into the mirror I could see, yes, blue around the outside, but as the color got close to the iris it got darker and was BROWN. I have blue eyes with brown around the iris, I announced. Can you have blue AND brown eyes? I was asked. I seem to, I said, not displeased to be neither one nor the other.

mythusmage said...

So I'm a mutant neanderthal/human hybrid with Aspergers Syndrome. I'm also a dark blonde, which makes me wonder about my ancestry. :)