The Phenomenon of Eye Color
Until The American Journal of Human Genetics determined otherwise in a 2007 study, it was commonly believed that eye color was a simple trait that was passed on by one gene from each parent. Ten years ago, this ‘fact’ was disproved and the new fact stands that eye color can be determined by up to 16 different genes! What does this mean exactly? Eye color is not as cut and dry as we once believed, but an offspring can inherit virtually any eye color no matter how rare.
Your eyes can say a lot about your ancestral lineage because of the complex genetic coding that is involved with eye color, and here is a closer look into what your eye color means…
Brown eyes are the most common eye color among our current population (about 55% of people have them), but having brown eyes comes with many benefits! If you have brown eyes, your eyes have more melanin in them, which means that they are less sensitive to the harmful UV rays that the sun gives off. Because of the dark pigmentation of brown eyes, people with this eye color are less likely to be subject to sun damage.
Only about 8% of the world’s population has blue eyes, and it is said that blue eyes trace back to Northern Europe. It is commonly believed that blue eyes originally occurred because of a genetic mutation of one single ancestor that occurred 6-10 thousand years ago! This indicates that at one point in time, your eye color was brand-new to the world!
Hazel eyes are the most difficult eye color to read because hazel is defined as the midway color between blue and brown, so many people with hazel eyes have multiple colors within one of their irises. How does this occur? People with hazel eyes can have a mixed ancestral lineage from Europe and Asia, which makes it difficult to trace just where this unique eye color came from. However, we do know that people with hazel eyes are more likely to have eyes that appear as different colors depending on the time of day and even what they are wearing!
If you have green eyes, than you should know that your eye color is the least common eye color in existence, and only 2% of the population has green eyes. People with green eyes are found in virtually every area around the world, which indicates that green eyes mainly occur in people that have some sort of migration of ancestors in their lineage. So contrary to popular belief, green eyes are not a genetic mutation, but rather a variation that occurred when a population migrated from one region to another years and years ago.
Eye color is a mysterious phenomenon that scientists still haven’t completely figured out yet, but we do know that eye color can reveal a lot about a person’s genetic code, and where their ancestors may have come from.
What do your eyes say about you?
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