Europeans Started To Evolve From Dark To White 8,000 years Ago, Study Reveals

By @Guneet_B on
British actress Hannah New talks about STARZ's "Black Sails"
British actress Hannah New talks about STARZ's "Black Sails" during the Winter 2014 Television Critics Association (TCA) presentations in Pasadena, California, January 10, 2014. Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Europeans were not always white, a recent study has revealed. According to the scientists, genetic traits such as colour of the skin, height and tolerance toward milk evolved more recently in the Europeans than originally thought.

Research conducted by a team of researchers at the Harvard University studied 83 samples from Holocene Europe and found that inhabitants in Europe had dark skin initially, and who then genetically evolved around 8,000 years ago to include genes that carry the lighter tone of the epidermis. The research concluded that modern Europeans don't nearly resemble the population that existed around 8,000 years ago.

What inspired the researchers to draw the conclusion was the comparison between the genomic sequences of ancient individuals gathered from archaeological sites across Europe and the modern Europeans. The researchers claimed that the modern population in Europe is a mix of a minimum of three ancient populations consisting of farmers and hunter-gatherers who migrated to Europe around 8,000 years ago.

The same team of scientists conducted a separate study recently and came to a conclusion that genetic traits under strong natural selection spread through the European continent around 8,000 years ago. The traits included five genes linked to skin pigmentation and dietary habits.

"The modern humans who came out of Africa to originally settle Europe about 40,000 years are presumed to have had dark skin, which is advantageous in sunny latitudes. And the new data confirm that about 8,500 years ago, early hunter-gatherers in Spain, Luxembourg, and Hungary also had darker skin: They lacked versions of two genes — SLC24A5 and SLC45A2 — that lead to depigmentation and, therefore, pale skin in Europeans today," reported the Science magazine.

The study was presented at the 84th annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and the study has been published in the journal BioRxiv.


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