7,000-year-old male, blue eyes, dark skin, likes hunting ..
January 27, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Baptized "La Brana 1" by scientists, the man lived during the Mesolithic period, which lasted from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago.
- Remains of two people from Mesolithic period were found in Spain in 2006
- Scientists analyze one of their genomes, found he had blue eyes and dark skin
- La Brana 1's closest modern descendants, in genetic terms, live in northern Europe
- Scientists plan to analyze second individual's remains, which less well preserved
(CNN) -- Scientists examining the 7,000-year-old remains of a hunter-gatherer found in Spain have discovered that African versions of pigmentation genes determined his skin color, but that he had blue eyes now associated with northern Europeans.
Baptized "La Brana 1" by scientists -- after the La Brana-Arintero site where his remains were found -- the man lived during the Mesolithic period, which lasted from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago.
The Mesolithic hunter-gather period was followed by the Neolithic period and the advent of farming. As a result, La Brana 1's diet differed from Neolithic man, and researchers said he had been lactose intolerant.
Meet Italy's ancient ancestors
Artifact 'gold mine' rewrites history?
Space archaeologist reveals lost worlds
Archaeological treasure trove in London
"The biggest surprise was to discover that this individual possessed African versions in the genes that determine the light pigmentation of the current Europeans, which indicates that he had dark skin, although we cannot know the exact shade," researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) said.
"Even more surprising was to find that he possessed the genetic variations that produce blue eyes in current Europeans, resulting in a unique phenotype in a genome that is otherwise clearly northern European."
A genome is the full map of an individual's DNA.
La Brana 1's closest modern descendants, in genetic terms, live in northern Europe in places like Sweden and Finland.
The research -- carried out by the CSIC in partnership with Denmark's Centre for GeoGenetics -- has been published in the scientific journal "Nature."
Manuel Vidal Encinas, archaeologist of the Council of Castilla y Leon, found and excavated the La Brana-Arintero site, near Leon, in 2006.
Scientists said the cave is located in a cold mountainous area with a steady temperature -- conditions that contributed to the "exceptional" preservation of the DNA of La Brana 1 and the remains of another individual found there.
Researchers say they will now try to recover the genome of the second set of remains, which were not as well preserved.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1934 GMT (0334 HKT)
Nichelle Nichols has spent her whole life going where no one has gone before, and at 81 she's still as sassy and straight-talking as you'd expect from an interstellar explorer.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1210 GMT (2010 HKT)
As fans of "Grey's Anatomy," "ER" and any other hospital-based show can tell you, emergency-room doctors are fighting against time.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
Ask 100 robotics scientists why they're inspired to create modern-day automatons and you may get 100 different answers.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
From the air, the Namibian desert looks like it has a bad case of chicken pox.
May 28, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
The trend for nature-inspired designs has spread across industries from crab-style deep-sea vessels to insect-inspired buildings.
May 25, 2014 -- Updated 1222 GMT (2022 HKT)
Consider it the taxonomist's equivalent of a People magazine's Most Beautiful List.
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
For the first time, scientists have shown it is possible to alter the biological alphabet and still have a living organism that passes on the genetic information.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
Do we really want to go the route of "Jurassic Park"?
May 2, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Catch a train from the sky! Perhaps in the future, the high-rise superstructures could help revolutionize the way we travel.
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)
In a nondescript hotel ballroom last month at the South by Southwest Interactive festival, Andras Forgacs offered a rare glimpse at the sci-fi future of food.
March 20, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
For a Tyrannosaurus rex looking for a snack, nothing might have tasted quite like the "chicken from hell."
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 2229 GMT (0629 HKT)
Everyone is familiar with Tyrannosaurus rex, but humanity is only now meeting its much smaller Arctic cousin.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1712 GMT (0112 HKT)
At about 33 feet long, weighing 4 to 5 tons and baring large blade-shaped teeth, the dinosaur Torvosaurus gurneyi was a formidable creature.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
This Pachyrhinosaurus can go to the head of its class.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
Science is still trying to work out how exactly we reason through moral problems, and how we judge others on the morality of their actions. But patterns are emerging.
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
A promising way to stop a deadly disease, or an uncomfortable step toward what one leading ethicist called eugenics?
February 15, 2014 -- Updated 0107 GMT (0907 HKT)
Seattle paleontologists safely removed the largest fossilized mammoth tusk discovered in the region from a construction site.
April 23, 2013 -- Updated 1013 GMT (1813 HKT)
A mysterious, circular structure, with a diameter greater than the length of a Boeing 747 jet, has been discovered submerged about 30 feet underneath the Sea of Galilee in Israel.
January 17, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Every corner of the planet offers some sort of natural peculiarity with an explanation that makes us wish we'd studied harder in junior high Earth science class.
November 14, 2013 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
Deep in a remote, hot, dry patch of northwestern Australia lies one of the earliest detectable signs of life on the planet, tracing back nearly 3.5 billion years, scientists say.
September 4, 2013 -- Updated 1910 GMT (0310 HKT)
We leave genetic traces of ourselves wherever we go -- in a strand of hair left on the subway or in saliva on the side of a glass at a cafe.