My oldest ancestor

I’ve discovered I’m descended from a unique individual who was born about 6,000 BC. For the first few months after birth this baby appeared no different from any other, but gradually as its first birthday approached something startling happened which made the baby different from any other person alive on earth, different from any other person who had ever lived.

The baby was born to parents living around the Black Sea during the Neolithic period when humans lived in small tribes and were moving from an existence of hunter-gatherers into more settled units who lived by agriculture. A genetic mutation meant the baby had a reduced amount of melanin in the iris of its eyes. The baby was the first human being whose eyes were blue.

Goodness knows what the mother thought as she stared at her baby’s face. Fortunately it appears the mutation was regarded as a good omen, otherwise the baby probably wouldn’t have survived… and I wouldn’t be here.

There’s now probably less than 10% of the world’s population that has blue eyes, under 25% for Caucasians, and it’s becoming increasingly more rare as humans intermarry between ethnic groups.

It was actually my left handedness that brought up thoughts of things genetic. About 8% of humans are cack handed. None of our four children are left handed, not surprising since we should have gone on to have another six before having a left hander. But BOTH my grandsons are left handed, and the jury’s out on my two granddaughters… they’re too young at present to be consistent. Since there’s no other instance of left handedness in the families I know that trait has come from my dad, to me, skipped a generation with my children and landed up with my grandchildren. They also have pale blue eyes like me and my dad, but the origin for that is less certain since I’m not the only family member with blue eyes.

It’s set me pondering about physical traits passed down. Linda has done a fantastic job on our family history, ending up with over 320 individuals on our family tree dating back as far as 1688, and yet more to come when we crack my dad’s side of the family, where we’ve only managed to get back as far as my Irish great grandparents born about 1850. But isn’t it a pity a note of physical traits aren’t kept to help understand why we look as we do. My eldest daughter Becky has the long face of her great grandmother McKinnie (nee Francis Dolan Nicol), passed from my dad, through me, to her. Or my eldest son David, who has the dark features of the Richardsons from Lancaster passed through Linda’s mum.

Was definitely feeling the presence of the dearly departed when making my first night allotment visit of the autumn to tend the feathered fiends. Working Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I won’t be seeing light on these evening visits until Spring.

Parking in the cemetery is probably not a good start to make on a dark and windy night, but all went well until I walked onto my plot. From the corner of my blue eye I suddenly noticed a shadowy image keeping pace with me on the adjoining plot. Nearly jumped out of my skin until I realised it was a shadow cast from the lamp I was carrying. More was to come as I walked back to the cemetery, with shadows rising from the uneven ground all around me.

When I’m doing the chickens I wear a head lamp which gives a false sense of security… all appears bright in front, but of course you stand out for miles and can’t see a thing beyond the edge of darkness. Try desperately not to think of one of my favourite science fiction films, Pitch Black… to see why I’d rather not think of it click here for a short preview.

Had our annual meeting of the Hill Rise Allotment Association last week. Usual ducking and diving when it came to the election of ‘volunteers’ to fill the various posts. I came away with the position of Secretary. To view a copy of our minutes from that meeting click here.

Video clips and photos below from the last week. Thanks for reading my blog. John

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  1. Anonymous10:32 am

    Genetics are fascinating. I have one child who has a deep tan as soon as the sun shines and another who is as white as snow and burns easily. Both my husband and I are standard British with the obligatory palid complexion! (And we all have blue eyes....)

  2. Hi CambridgeLady. Thanks for the comment. That means you're also all related to that neolithic ancestor.


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