Friday, January 8, 2010

I am a genetic mutant

Today I had a pretty exciting event on my social calendar. You ready for it? Well, first I gave a final exam--woo hoo! Then I went with two of my students downtown to buy a new projector for one of our classrooms. I drank tea and got to speak some horrible Turkish (though my student said my pronunciation was really good...probably because I say the same words over and over again). Then...and here's where it gets super exciting (or eggziting, as my students say)...then we went out to dinner! Having dinner companions is pretty amazing for me, quite frankly, I'm pretty much a hermit these days (not by choice).

Anyway, on our way out of the cafe, one of my students commented: "Teacher...everyone is looking at you. You want to know why? Because you are blonde." Then he went on to say that maybe it was because I also had blue eyes. "It is very eggziting for people (read: males) in Turkey," he said. Now, you may or may not agree that I'm a blonde, but that's besides the point. The point is that I'm a genetic mutant.

What, you say? Mutant, you say? Well, my student later went on to tell me that one of my colleagues had said that people with blue eyes have a genetic mutation. We're all supposed to have brown eyes. Of course, I heard that and thought that he was just being hegemonic (that was for you, Fielding) but then I decided to look it up. And you know what, folks? He was right!

Turns out the university of Copenhagen did some research on blue-eyed folk and discovered that they all have one common ancestor (they haven't tracked down her name yet though...sorry). In 2008, Hans Eiberg and his buds published an article Human Genetics that stated that discovered that (ready for this?)"a mutation in the 86th intron of the HERC2 gene, which is hypothesized to interact with the OCA2 gene promoter, reduced expression of OCA2 with subsequent reduction in melanin production."

Though it's quite possibly the most horrifying sentence I've ever read, it's basically saying that a mutation caused blue eyes. They then go on to say that this mutation can be tracked down to a single individual in the Near East or Black Sea region 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Which is just great--yet another thing that Turks can claim originated in Turkey: blue friggin' eyes. (Turks are crazy for saying everything originates here, but that's a separate blog post.) Originally, it turns out we all had brown eyes. My colleague was right.

(Of course, he later went on to say that only clever people were bald and ordinary people have hair, but...we'll skip that one. And yes, he's bald.)

Apparently blue eyes are even becoming more rare in the United States. A 2002 study showed that 33.8% of the population born from 1936 to 1951 has blue eyes, down from 57.7% for those born from 1899 through 1905. Now only one in six children are born with blue eyes people! That's 22.4% of white Americans! Thanks ethnic blending...way to go. Why did we have to get all p.c. and allow intermarriage again?*

But let's quit all this depressing talk about my vanishing mutant race. Here's the thought I really want to leave you with...was it really a genetic mutation that cuased blue eyes?

Or was it...ALIENS???

This blog post was written solely with "facts" from Wikipedia. Feel free to disprove me. Please.
*Note: Writer is being sarcastic here. See through it, please. (<--you never know, people. Really.)
P.S. Why are eyes so creepy all by themselves?

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