Dirt & Bones: The Eyes Have It

In my current novel (Working Title: HORSES OF THE WEST SUN) I write about the ancient peoples from whom so many Europeans descend. In the novel, the two groups I write about are the Volk, who have blue eyes, and the River People, who are brown-eyed. If you have European heritage, likely you have genes from one or both of these two major populations. In other words, you are a descendant of the people I’m writing about.

Recent studies at the University of Copenhagen lend serious credence to the theory that sometime between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago in the Black Sea area, one male baby was born with blue eyes. For those of you who have a scientific bent, that eye color is the result of a mutation in the HERC2 gene that effects the OCA2 (oculocutaneous albinism II) gene, which dampers the production of melanin in the iris. Participants in that University of Copenhagen study, 155 people with blue eyes from areas that ranged from Turkey to Denmark, all carried the same genetic mutation in the chromosomes that affect the color of the eyes.

My mother had dark brown eyes, and my father has blue eyes. I’m a combination of the two. Much like the photo above, my eyes are green at the edges but amber in the center. Despite not being blue-eyed, I’m probably a descendant of this OCA2 mutated individual. Anyone with blue eyes or with an ancestor who had blue eyes is probably also a descendant of this one man.

Tell me about your eyes. What color are they?

(Eye photo, public domain.)

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13 Responses to Dirt & Bones: The Eyes Have It

  1. Ginny Lockhart says:


  2. Mine are blue, and I’m told they don’t appear to ever change, despite the science that says there is no blue in blue eyes…that “blue eyes get their color from the light that’s coming in and being reflected back out, so they can appear as different colors depending on the lighting conditions.” Sounds strange to me! LOL.

  3. Hazel, my parents are both brown eyed but my
    Grandpa had blue eyes from hungary

  4. Diane Stocking says:


  5. Diane Stocking says:

    I am curious as have been told, dad has family rom Germany maybe Alsace Lorraine and mother Mueller (Miller) and Bloch was father’s family name, changed in USA to Block. Mother’s family a mystery, and grandma gone, think Bader maiden name laned in Rosebush, MI and grandpa’s family McReavy, whereabouts ??? and haven’t checked Ancestry.com.

  6. Patti says:

    My eyes are blue and my hair has red highlights. I remember your telling me that I might also belong to Giants (larger species of human?) that came over near the Carolinas and made their way inland. My mothers family is from the North Carolina mountains. I’m probably Cherokee as well, as my tall, slim, high cheek bones tell.

    So, I really should have a DNA test done. Sue, have you had one done?

  7. suehar says:

    I have, Patti. My Native American DNA was only at 1%, but the “cousin” links available through the test allowed me to find the Native ancestors on both sides of my family — the Nipmuck Indians of the Northeast (Massachusetts) on my mom’s side through a many times great grandfather named Ezekiel Cole, and a double Cherokee link on my dad’s side through Mary (Polly) and William A. Duke, who were listed on the Henderson Role in Georgia in 1835. The Henderson Role was taken in order to organize the Cherokee and Creek people (and others) for the Trail of Tears.

  8. suehar says:

    Carol Gavin, I love this info. Blue eyes are so gorgeous!! I have noticed with my husband’s blue eyes, which are a gray-blue that they change to very blue when he wears a pale blue shirt or sweater. I think I fell in love with his eyes first!!

  9. suehar says:

    Diane Stocking, I’m interested in that Rosebush, MI, link. My maternal grandparents came over from Germany in the 1850s when they were very young children (ages 2 and 4, I think). Her last name was Kurnicki and his was Bohley. The Bohley’s as I understand it, were from Eastern Germany/Czechoslovakia and the Kurnicki’s from the Baltic Sea area/Pomerania/Poland. We believe there is an Eastern European Jewish link to both families as well. They also settled in the Rosebush area!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    My eyes are green/blue. I am 49% Finnish the rest being north west Europe and Sandinavian. My dna results go back to Neanderthal and some Native American.

  11. suehar says:

    To Anonymous: That has to be so rare, both Native American and Neanderthal! Wow!

  12. Jane Duschen says:

    Mine are very blue.

  13. suehar says:

    You’re so lucky, Jane! Blue eyes are so gorgeous!!

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