We are often spotted on holiday cowering underneath paddling-pool sized sun hats having turned ourselves Marcelle Marceau white under layers of suncream.
But we flame haired folks can trace our heritage back to the first intrepid explorers that traveled from Africa to northern Europe.
It is now believed that the mutation that caused V60L allele otherwise known as the ‘ginger gene’, occurred around 50,000 years ago.
We gained our distinctive colouring as our skin lightened leaving behind only fragments of UV protective melaninand a freckled epidermis allowing us to get more vitamin D from infrequent and weaker sunlight.
However, it has also increased our risk of melanomas – the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The mutation remains common across Europe, even in those with no outward signs.
For ‘rufosity’ to occur in an offspring, the gene needs to be carried by both parents as it is a recessive gene.
Researchers made the discovery while examining the evolutionary processes of particular genes of 1,000 people from Spain.
Study author Dr Saioa Lopez said: “As a consequence of depigmentation there has been a collateral damage consequence to health.
‘This can be reconciled if we assume that melanoma is typically a post-reproductive disease, and consequently should have little effect on the individual’s genetic contribution to the next generation.’
The study was published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
My childhood was regularly punctuated with taunts of “Oy – carrot top, ginger nut, Duracell”, “who wants a ginger biscuit?”, “can I join the dots on your freckles?”and the like. If only I’d had access to this research, how different my awkward teen years might have been, feeling so persecuted for the genetic curse of flame red hair and freckles.
Surely I could have quipped back “Yeah what of it? I’m not only more evolved than you, but I also have developed a superpower, with my sporadic arrangement of melanin, I am able to absorb vitamin D up to 10 times faster than you my swarthy brunette tormentor!”
OK maybe not, I’m also oppressed by gravity and at a gargantuan and 5 foot 1 it’s probably a good thing that instead I stuck with the time tested advice for dealing with bullies and “ignored them,” aided by my Walkman and a large hat!
Reblogged this on CYCLING LEARNING AND HEALING THE WORLD.
I have a red-headed 17 y.o. daughter who has long learned to embrace her hair. Gingers rule!
Hey fellow red head, great post, thanks for sharing the information and the paragraph about your childhood was.. well, a walk down memory lane. 🙂
imagine, my redhead, freckles face hitting that beach in florida every week-end. Bring on the sun screen.
reblogged to Heartafire with comment “I knew it”.
Reblogged this on friendlyhipster.
Does the same principle apply to ginger kats??
I’ve always known red hair is NOT a freak of nature! I’m biased, of course, since red hair runs on both sides of my family, and my own hair turns auburn when I stay outside for long periods during summer. I don’t understand people who say they ‘hate’ red hair. I don’t care how they feel about it, but if someone ‘hates’ red hair, they’re an idiot!
I hope you don’t mind, Sunny, but I posted the link to this on my Facebook page.
If you do, please let me know, and I’ll remove it. Either way, thanks for this!
It is the ‘curse of flame red hair’ as a child but a bless as a grown up;) everybody loves red hair.
I’m curious how long it will take untill they start changing people hair permanently instead of just dye hair..:P
I am happily ginger, loved soaking up all the banter at school and tell my friends that have since lost their hair that when I grow old, I’ll go pink gracefully! – metiefly