Sunday, March 15, 2009

mommy, where do gingers come from?

This is too good not to share.

Scientists at Oxford University believe that the so-called ginger gene, which is responsible for red hair, fair skin and freckles, might be up to 100,000 years old. A 2001 discovery indicates that the gene possibly originated in – dun dun dun – the Neanderthal man.

Yeah, Neanderthals had red hair. How did I not know that? Professor L. sure didn’t mention that one in Anthropology 100.

For those of you who didn’t take that highly... interesting... class (or who memorized everything for the exam and forgot it the next day like me), Neanderthals are thought to have been a less intelligent species than modern man, Homo sapiens. They were taller and stockier, but had shorter limbs, broader faces and noses, receding chins and low foreheads. Language-wise, they functioned at the level of your lovable local two-year-old. They settled down and made themselves comfy in Europe about 300,000 years ago, but 260,000 years later, a wave of new folks (our ancestor, Cro-Magnon Man) jaunted over from Africa and the two species co-existed happily for 10,000 years. Pretty happily, all right. The Oxford research, presented at a London conference of the Human Genome Organization back in ‘01, implies that the two species must have interbred for the ginger gene to survive. Neanderthals were hotties!

Some scientists believe Neanderthals were ultra-humans, able to adapt to climate extremes. They did survive for 272,000 years before the bigger-brained Cro-Magnons got cranky and decided they didn’t want to share the resources anymore.

My favorite part of the whole thing is how paranoid the scientists are that redheads will be insulted at the Neanderthal link.

Me no offended. Me, redhead. Me have super-human gene!

PS. If you don't like this creation myth, my roommate suggested that redheads were originally born out of the ground as carrots. Hey, your guess is as good as mine.