Research sheds light on how 'white people' became white

New Study Says Light Skin Developed Quickly in Bronze Age

Research in the journal Nature is giving new insight into how Europeans' skin color became lighter over time.

The research comes from analyzing ancient DNA, looking at how traits like skin color, eye color and even the ability to drink milk took hold over time. It's an interesting approach that's become more widespread in the last few years.

"The aim in this field is to sequence not just small bits of DNA from ancient individuals but whole genomes," said Professor Daniel Bradley, an expert at the University College Dublin.

Tech Times called the newest research "the most extensive ancient genomic study to date."

This new study supports the claim that light-colored skin was actually pretty common in Europe during the Bronze Age — that's around 3,000 to 1,000 B.C. What's more — the pigmentation of the skin seems to have drastically changed to the lighter tone "within a period of approximately 3,000 years."

The study also found that during the Bronze Age, most people in Eurasia could not drink milk without having a reaction. Only around 10 percent of Europeans could stomach dairy.

What this means is the ability to drink milk, and actually enjoy it, is newer than experts previously thought.

The research also supports claim that blue eyes aren't new. Hunter gatherers' genomes from Mesolithic Europe — dating back to about 10,000 to 5,000 B.C. — already showed signs of the distinctive trait.

A companion study, also published in Nature, used the same ancient DNA to study how early Europeans migrated, which could shed light on how Bronze Age cultures — and even languages — spread around the continent.

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