Skip to comments.Ancient DNA reveals that some Neanderthals were redheads
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
Some redheads still are neanderthals.
So much for Dumb Blonde jokes.
But it sure explains a lot about red heads............
Pingaroo to Frou Frou!..........
Now that is a woman built like a brick pagoda with every brick in place.
Real fine genes in that Neanderthal!!
brings back memories...
Every few years we hear about this. I believe it, of course!
“But it sure explains a lot about red heads............”
It sure explains a lot about my ex-wives!
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.
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.
related Blast from the Past:
Redheads ‘are neanderthal’
Source: Times UK
Posted on 04/17/2001 07:38:43 PDT by sirgawain
there goes the politically incorrect adage: “red-headed stepchild”
One of my all-time favorites! ;-)
My wife would say I resemble that remark.
Now that’s apropos!
The Neandertal EnigmaFrayer's own reading of the record reveals a number of overlooked traits that clearly and specifically link the Neandertals to the Cro-Magnons. One such trait is the shape of the opening of the nerve canal in the lower jaw, a spot where dentists often give a pain-blocking injection. In many Neandertal, the upper portion of the opening is covered by a broad bony ridge, a curious feature also carried by a significant number of Cro-Magnons. But none of the alleged 'ancestors of us all' fossils from Africa have it, and it is extremely rare in modern people outside Europe." [pp 126-127]
by James Shreeve
Thanks Founding Father.
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Both seem to be somewhat removed from [the way things are].
That Richardson got New Mexicans to vote him into the governorship is surprising.
You owe me a new keyboard, I just spilled my coffee LOL
So now we know that the expression “redheaded stepchild” has been around awhile
I’ve been called a lot of things, but never a Neanderthal...;o])
I found the reason you like red hats...
I love my Neanderthal!
Wow, blast from the past indeed. A lot of old Freeper memories associated with many of those posters.
Well why wouldn’t there have been redheaded Neanderthals? Red hair is just a mutation of the genes that code for hair color, it’s not like it couldn’t have happened way back then.
What is surprising that all of those in NM that DID NOT vote for Richardson, voted for him. LBJ's "86 Dead Mexicans" have increased and multiplied exponentially throughout the Southwest .... O beg pardon .... Aztlán.
However, I find Bill Richardson somewhat interesting. I would love to know what he and Monca Lewinsky talked about.
Spot on! Jimmy Carter’s one of them.
This might be very interesting. Red hair and light skin go together. The adaptation appears to be related to life at high latitudes, such as Europe. It allows the skin more effectively to synthesize Vitamin D, particularly if much of the body is covered with clothing because of the cold.
I suspect that Neanderthals and modern humans were able to interbreed, but there is no longer any way to test this hypothesis by the usual means. If the two groups could not interbreed, and the Neanderthals and modern humans independently developed light skin for life in foggy, cold, northern latitudes, this would be a case of parallel evolution.
Of course, if you still think that the Earth and the whole Universe were formed in 4,004 BC, you will have trouble making sense out of all this.
Not all cave men were Neanderthals. The men who painted the fine pictures on the walls of the caves in southern France and northern Spain were Cro Magnon, which is a racial type of modern men. There is good evidence that they have left modern descendants.
The Neanderthals, on the other hand, were heavier-boned than modern humans, and had skull characteristics which would be very distinctive. They probably were muscular enough to be able to make short work of even our most grisly looking, steroid-enhanced pro-wrestlers. So why did the Neanderthals die out?
Perhaps global warming got them! ;-)
I don’t think they did die out. They were absorbed within the rest of the human race. Every now and then, a throwback pops up. They are still here..............
Good for you.
Playing mostly for the NFL............
Survival of the fittest....and that’s us! :D
Dummy and the Beast
I knew my need to go primitive from time to time had to be genetic.