Navigation Links
Red hair and freckles...
Date:10/26/2007

This release is available in German.

Fossil remains of Neanderthals paint an incomplete picture; they cannot tell us about their cognitive skills or give us details of what they looked like. Since scientists in Svante Paabo's team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig started looking into the DNA of Neanderthals, they have made some new and astonishing discoveries. Just last week, the Leipzig scientists published their discovery of the human variant of the FOXP2 gene in our nearest relatives. And they have now revealed another interesting detail: at least one percent of the Neanderthals in Europe may have had red hair, according to a report by researchers working with Carles Lalueza-Fox at the University of Barcelona, Holger Rompler at the University of Leipzig and Michael Hofreiter at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig in the online edition of Science (Science Express, October 25, 2007).

A fashion magazine recently asked what hair colours were in this year, prophesizing an exceptionally large number of red-haired men and women on the streets. In view of "Germany's Next Top Model" winner, Barbara, of the popular reality show of the same name, the magazine declared that red was the new blonde! In actual fact, only two percent of the world's population (and the German population) have naturally red hair - caused by a mutation in the gene mc1r. The resulting change in the protein it controls causes those who have this gene mutation to carry pheomelanin instead of the dark melanin in their skin, hair and eyes. This gives them much more sensitive, light coloured skin and, in many case, lots of freckles.

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in collaboration with their colleagues at the universities in Barcelona and Leipzig have now discovered that one percent of the Neanderthals in Europe had red hair - and it was definitely not dyed. The researchers tracked down the Neanderthals' hair colour by means of genetic analysis: first, they attempted to multiply a piece of the mc1r gene from an extract of Neanderthal DNA. In doing so, they found a variant that has never been observed in modern humans.

Thanks to a series of complex tests, the molecular biologists were able to rule out the chance that the experimental samples containing the variant may have been contaminated with modern human DNA, or were a random result caused by damaged DNA or PCR errors (PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, is a method of multiplying DNA). Functional tests then showed that this variant is much less active than the normal human variant. "Gene variants with similarly reduced activity are also known in modern man - although they are a result of other mutations," says Michael Hofreiter. "In people, they lead to red-coloured hair. We can therefore assume that part of the Neanderthal population may have had red or light coloured hair and possibly even lighter coloured skin," according to the paleoanthropologist.

Whether red hair in Neanderthals was considered particularly erotic or more of a turnoff is, of course, something the scientists cannot say.


'/>"/>

Contact: Michael Hofreiter
hofreiter@eva.mpg.de
49-341-355-0523
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... , Apr. 11, 2017 Research and Markets ... 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR ... Global Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an ... the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 2017  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today ... one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window into the human ... first application of deep learning to create predictive models ... and a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen ... future publicly available resources created and shared by the ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... , April 3, 2017  Data ... precision engineering platform, detected a statistically significant ... product prior to treatment and objective response ... the potential to predict whether cancer patients ... to treatment, as well as to improve ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... publication of a United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that demonstrates the ... diagnostic test capable of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and viral respiratory ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... At ... Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research scientist ... has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame . ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... BALTIMORE, Md. (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 ... ... for digital pathology, announced today it will be hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology ... of  Advanced Pathology Associates , on digital pathology adoption best practices and how ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A new study ... in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer cycles. The ... IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh and frozen transfer ...
Breaking Biology Technology: