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First genetic portrait of Mesolithic European shows black skin

The first physical portrait of a Mesolithic European was presented in the Jan. 26, 2014, issue of the journal Nature by Carles Lalueza-Fox, researcher from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in collaboration with the Centre for GeoGenetics in Copenhagen, Denmark.

La Braña 1, the name used to baptize a 7,000-year-old individual from the Mesolithic Period, had blue eyes and dark skin.
PELOPANTON / CSIC

The individual on which the genetic analysis was developed has been designated as La Braña 1. The extremely high level of genetic integrity of the remains of La Braña 1 allowed the researchers to develop a genome that is 7,000 years old. La Braña 1 was originally found at La Braña-Arintero site in Valdelugueros in León, Spain in 2006.

La Braña 1 had the gene markers that indicated this individual had dark skin and blue eyes. The skin coloration has a definite African origin while the eyes indicate a possible ancestor from Northern Europe or Siberia.

This blending of racial qualities is congruent with the presently understood migration of peoples from Africa to Europe and across Europe prior to the Mesolithic time period that lasted from 5,000 to 10,000 years ago.

La Braña 1 was a hunter-gatherer and did not have the ability to digest dairy products that contained lactose because this ancient man’s culture had not yet developed raising livestock or farming.