Feeds

Crap Scottish weather favours ginger hair

Student offers rainy explanation for Billy Bremner

Boost IT visibility and business value

A genetics research student has suggested that the comparatively high number of ginger-haired people among the Scots and Irish may be due in part to crap weather.

While 1-2 per cent of the European population are ginger, this is around eight per cent in Scotland and Ireland. One reason, speculates Emily Pritchard, is that ginger peoples' fair countenance is less of an evolutionary disadvantage in places where it's not likely to result in sunburn or skin cancer - "unhelpful characteristics in hunter-gatherer societies", the Times notes.

After the first redheads appeared in Europe, possibly just 20-40,000 years ago and long after humanity had exited Africa in search of less sunny climes, another factor was required for the survival of the ginger mutation*: "genetic bottlenecks" where small groups of humans with a common ancestry lived in stable communities, thereby increasing the chance of both parents carrying the genetic variation required to produce ginger offspring.

Pritchard, a 26-year-old studying at the MRC Human Genetics Unit at the Western General Hospital, noted: “The Celts, by chance, had a high frequency of the ginger mutation, which was able to persist over time.”

Pritchard admitted her idea is "speculation rather than scientific study", but described it as "plausible". ®

Bootnote

*A variation of the MC1R gene which supresses production of brown/black eumelanin pigment in skin and hair, leading to the predominance of red/yellow phaeomelanin. More here.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.