Today, I chat once again with Maya Hoole of the Achavanich Beaker Burial Project. Together with her colleague Hew Morrison, they reconstructed the face of a Bronze Age woman who has come to be known as Ava. Recent research has added further details to the reconstruction, Ava's DNA has given her a whole new look!
One of Scotland's first migrants had dark hair, brown eyes and was lactose-intolerant, skeleton DNA test reveals:
Achavanich Beaker Burial Project: Website:
Society of Antiquaries Scotland::
The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe:
I'm not at all surprised that she was not blonde. If you go to Wikipedia and search "Yamnaya culture" (the first people that did spread indo-european languages into Europe), then you see in the "Physical characteristics": "The genetic basis of a number of physical features of the Yamnaya people were ascertained by the ancient DNA studies conducted by Haak et al. (2015), Wilde et al. (2014) and Mathieson et al. (2015): they were genetically tall (phenotypic height is determined by both genetics and environmental factors), overwhelmingly dark-eyed (brown), dark-haired and had a skin colour that was moderately light, though somewhat darker than that of the average modern European. Despite their pastoral lifestyle, there was little evidence of lactase persistence." That's EXACTELY the physical characteristics of Ava! She was one of the first indo-european migrants in the British Islands.
"One of Scotland's first migrants had dark hair, brown eyes and was lactose-intolerant". Ava and Ötzi could give each other high-fives ! :-D
Less jokingly, I'm not surprised both of them were lactose-intolerant, even if they were from different parts of Europe. If they come from a period of the Neolithic in which there were some domesticated animals (including sheep), but these weren't used for making dairy products yet, it would make sense that a dairy-tolerance mutation wouldn't have occured yet in the wider population. Tellingly, in the entirety of the pre-Columbian era, Native American cultures were also lactose-intolerant, simply because the limited range of domesticates they had didn't include any dairy animals (at least I've never heard of the Inca getting dairy from llamas, and those would be by far the most likely candidate among domesticated New World animals).
+joeschultz2 Ah, but there is a sizeable minority in the British Isles even today ,especially in the 'Celtic' areas, who do have a Mediterranean look, although often with blue or hazel eyes rather than deep brown. Think Catherine Zeta Jones, Tom Jones, John Rhys Davies, Colin Farrell , Sean Connery etc etc. My grandmother was Irish and had black hair and proper brown eyes; I looked a little like Ava as a young girl only with dark brown hair and hazel eyes; I had a nice tan too but depigmented somewhat as I hit my 20's--still don't burn though.
+joeschultz2 Do you know the concept of spectrum pigmentation and the fact that Europe is not divided only in terms of "North" and "South" but also in sub-regions (with subgroups, genetically speaking)?
+Bon Séraphin: Unfortunately, the fellow who asked the question didn't ask about gene clusters. Are you saying that there is no more of a percentage of people with light hair and the lightest shades of skin in Northern Europe than in Southern Europe?
+joeschultz2 Mediterraneans is a non-scientific thing. Talk about genetic, cluster genetic, etc. Basque (or other ethnic group from SouthWest Europe) >>> genetically distant to North African.
Pigmentation is another subject. You should educate yoursel (PS: Ötzi was light skin, unlike your Cheddar).
Nothing to complain about, just that people in Scotland tend to have slightly lighter skin and slightly lighter hair colors than Mediterranean whites, such as the Spanish and Italians. So Ava came as a little bit of a surprise. Of course, some Mediterranean people have lighter hair and skin too, but not as great a percentage as in present day Scotland. All this was 4,000 years ago, lol.
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