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The Origin of Red Hair

Red hair color that is found mostly to people who live in the country of Britain and Ireland have been baffling scientists and geneticists for a long time now. It was thought so for a long time that the characteristics of red hair color had originated from a single gene that causes this. The most common hair color for the Caucasian race was the predominant blond color which has a varying combination of other sub characteristic hair colors such as platinum blond, dirty blond and hues of brown pigmentations. Hair color is really determined by the total amount of eumelanin (which has a dark brown pigment) and pheomelanin (which has a reddish pigment). The amount of these pigmentations vary in the amount that is produced in the hair strands which mean a light blond hair color is the result of very little amounts of eumelanin and that a lot of it causes it to produce a dark brown to black coloration of hair.

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In the case of people which have a large amount of pheomelanin in their hair, their hair coloration can range from red, pale red or even bright reddish brown colors. The need to categorize this characteristics in hair color led scientists and geneticists to divide hair color into small sub categories that start with the blond coloration, red and brown. Since the blond hair color represents hair types with less eumelanin, some researchers objectively rule it out otherwise. Some researchers believe that people with red, brown and black hair colors share common traits of pheomelanin with different degrees of pigmentation present in their hair strand and it was just a question of pigment distribution on the hair. There were some cases of Asian people who show certain red hair pigmentation on their hair, particularly on their side burns, mustaches and beards, that have strands of reddish to brown hair colors.

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Recessive Genes

Geneticists have made appropriate studies in determining if red hair color is indeed caused by recessive genes. Scientists had found cases in where both parents had brown hair, presumably expecting that their offspring would inherit the same traits in regards to hair coloration. Unfortunately, they were surprised to see that they had children who came out to have red hair, making geneticists suggest that a gene that causes red hair coloration is a sign of genetic recessiveness. In 1995, DNA studies revealed that Melanocortin MC1R (this is the genetic receptor that receives the instruction on what kind of hair color will be produced), found in people with red hair, suggested that there was an indication of amino acid mutation that could have triggered the anomaly.

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Evolutionary Development

The Northern European populations, particularly Britain and Ireland, have about around 10% of people that have red hair characteristics. Scientists believe that even though that red hair coloration is anomalous in a genetic sense it can also be the influence of various natural selective conditions such as geographic location and the effect of Ultra Violet rays on the geographical location, since the Northern European region is one of the places in the world that experiences very long and dark winters that obscure sunlight for most parts of the year, lack of sunlight may have played a key role in regards to the genetic evolution of people with red hair. Scientists also concur that red hair color is a very rare trait in regards to genetic characteristics of people that have them.

 

 

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Josh Matthews

My name is Josh Matthews and I am 53 years old and live in Miami. I have two kids, one boy and one girl with my wife Linda. My son Jon is now 19 years old and in College. My daughter Jennifer is 14 and still in High-School. We also have a dog. When I don't work in the marketing department of a health company, I like to spend time outdoors with my family and friends. I don't do as much sport as I should but my family and me go on a skiing vacation at least once a year.

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About the author

I am 53 years old and live in Miami. I have two kids, one boy and one girl with my wife Linda. My son Jon is now 19 years old and in College. My daughter Jennifer is 14 and still in High-School. We also have a dog. When I don’t work in the marketing department of a health company, I like to spend time outdoors with my family and friends. I don’t do as much sport as I should but my family and me go on a skiing vacation at least once a year.

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