Wednesday, 19 June 2013
The Red Haired Neanderthal
I'm currently messing around in our deep, deep past, trying to get a fix on the roads that humans have traveled for a new non-fiction book to be called Road through Time.
One of the delightful things is to discover that the red-haired genes I carry--once having redhair myself and having given birth to a red head--may come from Neanderthals.
Seems recent research into comparisons between European genomes and that of Neanderthals show that about 4 per cent of current European descendants have some of the cave men's genes.
That reminds me of what McGill archeologist Michael Bisson told me nearly 15 years ago when I did an article on evolution at the university for the alumni magazine. He suggested then that they probably had lots of body hair and were fair-skinned, traits that would have been useful in Ice Age climates and where the days are short for a much of the year since fair skin allows easier Vitamin D production.
Lee laughed when I told him: needless to say he's not a red head.
The drawing, BTW, is a recreation by National Geographic staff.
Posted by Mary Soderstrom