02 March 2023 at 07:24
The first modern humans in the Netherlands and the rest of Western Europe had dark skin and light eyes. This conclusion is confirmed in a major scientific analysis of DNA from prehistoric people on our continent.
A group of 125 international scientists base their findings on pieces of DNA found in the remains of 356 hunters and gatherers who roamed Europe between 35,000 and 5,000 years ago. According to De Volkskrant, this also included the remains of people who lived in the present-day Netherlands and off the coast on the Doggerland landmass.
The conclusion is not entirely new. For example, earlier research showed that the first modern humans on the land mass Doggerland (which now lies under the North Sea) must have had a dark skin color and light eyes. The same was true for the ancestors of residents of Great Britain, as DNA research in 2018 showed.
What makes this research new and special is the large scale on which it was carried out. According to the scientists involved, this is the largest DNA dataset of hunters and gatherers ever. The findings have been published in the scientific journal Nature.
Western European slowly turned white due to the rise of agriculture
Modern humans (homo sapiens) originated in Africa about 300,000 years ago and then spread all over the world. Humans reached Europe at least 45,000 years ago.
Between 14,000 and 8,000 years ago, the skin color of prehistoric people in Western Europe slowly started to lighten. This was related to the rise of agriculture. As a result, people ate less fish. The theory is that the resulting vitamin D deficiency was compensated with lighter skin. It improves the production of vitamin D from the sun.
Due to the arrival of people with a light skin color from Eastern Europe and Turkey, people in Western Europe eventually became whiter.
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