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Ancient DNA reveals that some Neanderthals were redheads
www.physorg.com ^ | 10/25/2007 | Harvard University

Posted on 10/25/2007 11:44:28 AM PDT by Red Badger

Ancient DNA retrieved from the bones of two Neanderthals suggests that at least some of them had red hair and pale skin, scientists report this week in the journal Science. The international team says that Neanderthals' pigmentation may even have been as varied as that of modern humans, and that at least 1 percent of Neanderthals were likely redheads.

The scientists -- led by Holger Römpler of Harvard University and the University of Leipzig, Carles Lalueza-Fox of the University of Barcelona, and Michael Hofreiter of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig -- extracted, amplified, and sequenced a pigmentation gene called MC1R from the bones of a 43,000-year-old Neanderthal from El Sidrón, Spain, and a 50,000-year-old individual from Monti Lessini, Italy.

"Together with other genes, this MC1R gene dictates hair and skin color in humans and other mammals," says Römpler, a postdoctoral researcher working with Hopi E. Hoekstra in Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. "The two Neanderthal individuals we studied showed a point mutation not seen in modern humans. When we induced such a mutation in human cells, we found that it impaired MC1R activity, a condition that leads to red hair and pale skin in modern humans."

To ensure that the MC1R point mutation was not due to contamination from modern humans, the scientists checked some 3,700 people, including those previously sequenced for the gene as well as everyone involved in the excavation and genetic analysis of the two Neanderthals. None showed the mutation, suggesting that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens followed different evolutionary paths to the same redheaded appearance.

With Neanderthals' surviving bones providing few clues, scientists have long sought to flesh out the appearance of this hominid species found across Eurasia some 28,000 to 400,000 years ago. While anthropologists had predicted that Neanderthals might have had pale skin or red hair, the new work by Römpler and colleagues offers the first strong evidence to support this hunch.

Found in cell membranes, MC1R is a receptor that acts as a switch between production of the red-and-yellow pigment pheomelanin and the black-and-brown pigment eumelanin. Modern humans with mutations that cause complete or partial loss of MC1R function tend to be pale and red-haired, although many other pigmentation genes can also result in this phenotype.

In 2006, a team led by Römpler found a mutation in woolly mammoths that may lead to some blond mammoths; together with her colleagues, Hoekstra, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard and curator in mammalogy in Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, has shown that this same mutation causes light coloration in mice. Römpler and Hoekstra are now collaborating to identify genetic changes responsible for pigment variation in other extant and extinct species.

"It has only recently become possible to decipher the genomes of species which became extinct thousands of years ago," Römpler says. "The methods used in these Neanderthal and mammoth studies could provide new insights into the coloration of other extinct hominids, animals, and plants."

Source: Harvard University


TOPICS: Germany; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: caveman; freckles; geico; gingergene; godsgravesglyphs; hair; helixmakemineadouble; neandertal; neandertals; neanderthal; neanderthals; redhair; redhead; redheads
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Well, DUH!..................

1 posted on 10/25/2007 11:44:29 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

2 posted on 10/25/2007 11:46:57 AM PDT by Zeppelin (Keep on FReepin' on...)
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To: Red Badger
Clearly!


3 posted on 10/25/2007 11:48:05 AM PDT by Rio (Don't make me come over there....)
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To: Red Badger

LOL


4 posted on 10/25/2007 11:48:07 AM PDT by Diamond
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To: Red Badger

Some redheads still are neanderthals.


5 posted on 10/25/2007 11:49:08 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Greed is NOT a conservative ideal.)
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To: Red Badger

So much for Dumb Blonde jokes.


6 posted on 10/25/2007 11:49:59 AM PDT by golfisnr1 (Democrats are like roaches - hard to get rid of.)
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Cool!


7 posted on 10/25/2007 11:50:09 AM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
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To: golfisnr1

But it sure explains a lot about red heads............


8 posted on 10/25/2007 11:50:33 AM PDT by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we have consensus.......)
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To: Froufrou

Pingaroo to Frou Frou!..........


9 posted on 10/25/2007 11:52:33 AM PDT by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we have consensus.......)
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To: Rio

Now that is a woman built like a brick pagoda with every brick in place.


10 posted on 10/25/2007 11:53:30 AM PDT by golfisnr1 (Democrats are like roaches - hard to get rid of.)
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To: Rio

Real fine genes in that Neanderthal!!


11 posted on 10/25/2007 11:55:24 AM PDT by Elsiejay (,)
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To: SunkenCiv

ping


12 posted on 10/25/2007 11:55:34 AM PDT by Founding Father (The Pedophile moHAMmudd (PBUH---Pigblood be upon him))
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To: Red Badger

brings back memories...

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1322006/posts

Every few years we hear about this. I believe it, of course!


13 posted on 10/25/2007 12:00:08 PM PDT by xroadie
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To: Red Badger

14 posted on 10/25/2007 12:00:21 PM PDT by PBRSTREETGANG
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To: Red Badger
And some of them mated with short less developed primates:


15 posted on 10/25/2007 12:01:01 PM PDT by VRWCmember (Fred Thompson 2008! Taking America Back for Conservatives!)
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To: VRWCmember

LMAO!


16 posted on 10/25/2007 12:02:42 PM PDT by RDTF ("Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear". Mark Twain)
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To: Red Badger

“But it sure explains a lot about red heads............”
It sure explains a lot about my ex-wives!


17 posted on 10/25/2007 12:04:56 PM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: Red Badger

Homo sapiens sapiens redheads also make up a tiny fraction of the population (would Neanderthal redheads include [actual] blond(e)s, as in modern humans the mutation is supposed to be the same, but blond(e)s have thinner hair follicles)? The title slightly suggests that Neanderthals in general were redheads.


18 posted on 10/25/2007 12:09:10 PM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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To: Red Badger

19 posted on 10/25/2007 12:10:10 PM PDT by RockinRight (The Council on Illuminated Foreign Masons told me to watch you from my black helicopter.)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

It sure explains a lot about my ex-wives!
____________

Absolutely LOL. Don’t tell me you were like my uncle. Married 3 times to exactly the same woman. Well, 3 different women, but they were exactly the same.


20 posted on 10/25/2007 12:11:46 PM PDT by dmz
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