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DNA Reveals Neanderthal Redheads
Harvard Gazette ^ | 2007 | Steve Bradt

Posted on 05/20/2008 6:22:40 PM PDT by blam

DNA reveals Neanderthal redheads

Neanderthals’ pigmentation possibly as varied as humans’, scientists say

By Steve Bradt

With Neanderthals’ surviving bones providing few clues, scientists have long sought to flesh out the appearance of this hominid species. Illustration created by Knut Finstermeier, Neanderthal reconstruction by the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museum Mannheim

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 that 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.”


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dna; freckles; gingergene; godsgravesglyphs; hair; helixmakemineadouble; neandertal; neandertals; neanderthal; neanderthals; neqnderthal; red; redhair; redhead
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1 posted on 05/20/2008 6:22:40 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

This one’s going to be fun! Beats all the Ted Kennedy threads getting pulled.


2 posted on 05/20/2008 6:25:13 PM PDT by neodad (USS Vincennes (CG 49) "Checkmate Cruiser")
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To: ExTexasRedhead

ping ExTexasRedhead


3 posted on 05/20/2008 6:25:31 PM PDT by VR-21
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To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.

Does anyone know why my article titled "Redheads 'Are Neanderthals" that I've had in my FR files for years now says: "No such file (give_legacy_article)"?

4 posted on 05/20/2008 6:25:42 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Wonder if they tweeked their spear tips down to a RCH?


5 posted on 05/20/2008 6:28:52 PM PDT by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: blam
Neanderthal Was A Redhead Say Scientists

Red heads: Cavemen carried the same genetic trait that makes (l to r) Mick Hucknall, Chris Evans and Prince Harry

It's in the 30,000-year-old genes: Anne Robinson, Geri Halliwell and Belinda Carlisle

6 posted on 05/20/2008 6:30:35 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Neanderthal redhead...


7 posted on 05/20/2008 6:31:20 PM PDT by Nervous Tick (La Raza hates white folks. And John McCain loves La Raza!)
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To: blam

8 posted on 05/20/2008 6:31:39 PM PDT by Anti-Bubba182
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To: blam
Gingervitis.


9 posted on 05/20/2008 6:33:13 PM PDT by frankjr ("Era, era, era...I have a headache that won't go away. Oh well, bottom's up!")
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To: blam

So my niece was right.


10 posted on 05/20/2008 6:33:41 PM PDT by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: blam
The Neanderthal Theory

Reconstructed skeleton believed to be a hybrid Modern Human/Neanderthal

11 posted on 05/20/2008 6:33:54 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

12 posted on 05/20/2008 6:34:02 PM PDT by I see my hands (_8(|)
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To: blam

There is an old legend that redheads get their coloring from interbreeding between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, that it is a Neanderthal gene.

I think that was disproved years ago, but you still hear it sometimes.


13 posted on 05/20/2008 6:35:22 PM PDT by FFranco
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To: Anti-Bubba182

I would rather see Leatherface hanging over my bed in the middle of the night than that.


14 posted on 05/20/2008 6:35:45 PM PDT by TightyRighty
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To: AdmSmith; AnalogReigns; Cacique; caryatid; Celtjew Libertarian; CobaltBlue; concentric circles; ...
Genetic
Genealogy
Send FReepmail if you want on/off GGP list
Marty = Paternal Haplogroup O(2?)(M175)
Maternal Haplogroup H
GG LINKS:
African Ancestry
DNAPrint Genomics
FamilyTree DNA
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Nat'l Geographic Genographic Project
Oxford Ancestors
RelativeGenetics
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The List of Ping Lists

15 posted on 05/20/2008 6:36:46 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: I see my hands

I’m starting to get South Park withdrawal. I think I’ll watch Ginger Kids tonight.


16 posted on 05/20/2008 6:36:56 PM PDT by Richard Kimball (We're all criminals. They just haven't figured out what some of us have done yet.)
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To: FFranco; blam

How about albinism as a Neanderthal trait? I’ve known a bunch and they all look pretty Neanderthalish.


17 posted on 05/20/2008 6:38:54 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh
Neandertals Had Big Mouths, Gaped Widely
18 posted on 05/20/2008 6:39:41 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

“DNA reveals Neanderthal redheads”

Must have got it from all those Scottish Rangers fans they arrested in Manchester last week.....


19 posted on 05/20/2008 6:42:32 PM PDT by thundrey
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To: blam

20 posted on 05/20/2008 6:58:06 PM PDT by Roscoe Karns
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