All the Blue-Eyed People in the World Share This One Trait

young woman's eye

young woman’s eye | iStock.com/Steve Mcsweeny

As incredible as it sounds, every person on Earth with blue eyes can have their lineage traced back to a single European person who lived between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. The blue-eyed mutation that appeared in that one person was then spread. And spread. And spread. Until today, when blue-eyed people seem to exist everywhere. The earliest trace of blue eyes has been found in a 7,000 year-old skeleton in Spain, though it’s not believed that this specimen was the first person to have blue eyes.

Prior to this mutation and its dissemination, almost everyone on Earth had brown eyes. Brown eye color has been found to be controlled by a gene named OCA2, which determines the amount of pigment in your eyes. Different people have different amounts of pigment regulated by this gene, and, as a result, have different eye color.

But recently, scientists have found that a separate gene is actually responsible for blue eyes.

Blue eyes of asian girl

Blue eyes of asian girl | iStock.com/Riki Risnandar

It’s called HERC2, and it’s something that every blue-eyed person has in common.

This gene, HERC2, essentially overrides and switches off OCA2, eliminating the brown pigment altogether. It’s thought that this gene became prevalent when humans migrated from Africa (which has predominately brown-eyed people) to Europe (where many more people have blue eyes).

Because this gene can be traced, so too can the common ancestor that all blue-eyed people share. So if you’ve got blue eyes and notice someone else has the same feature, it might behoove you to know that science has proven that you’re distant, distant relatives. Although it’s interesting, it still might not serve as much of an icebreaker, sadly.