Being redheaded is a prehistoric trait. That is, it is a physical property that appeared 50,000 years ago. (iStock)
The comment that climate change will reduce redheads has gone viral on social networks; What does the science say?
The phenotype of redheads is rarely expressed in the population, in fact, usually 1 or 2 people in 100 will have hair of this color. However, it is not a new feature.
National Geographic stated that it is a “prehistoric trait”, in fact DNA analysis shows that there were Neanderthals who were pale red-haired; That is, it is a physical property that appeared 50,000 years ago.
However, it is a recessive trait, which means that both the father and the mother need a redhead in order for their offspring to also have red hair.
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In fact, this gene, which was discovered in 1995, is “the melanocortin 1 receptor, or MC1R, and it plays a major role in the production of melanin, the tan pigment that protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) and also gives color to the eyes and skin. One type, eumelanin, gives hair a brown or black color. Phaeomelanin creates red or blonde hair and gives smooth skin and freckles.”
And although this gene is rare, science and genetics have no evidence that this gene has disappeared. “Redheads are not going to go extinct,” said Katrina Zorina Lichtenwalter, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado, quoting Katrina Zorina Lichtenwalter. National Geographic.
In addition, the appearance of red hair also initially led to an evolutionary advantage for the cultures that migrated from the sunny northern regions to the northern regions, which are characterized by gray skies and short winter days, so having pure skin, as is customary in red-haired women, was an advantage because It allows it to absorb UV rays more easily and produce more Vitamin D.
So, the largest number of redheads in the world is found in the United Kingdom and Ireland, two countries with described climatic characteristics. However, this feature can also backfire, because having fair skin increases their susceptibility to skin cancer, because these types of physical characteristics allow more UV rays to reach and damage DNA.
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