Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Gingers face extinction due to sunshine, say scientists

Neil Lennon, Celtic coach
Neil Lennon, Celtic coach
Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks
Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks
Julian Simmons
Julian Simmons

Gingers could be facing extinction as the red hair gene - thought to be a response to cloudy weather in Ireland and Scotland - is predicted to die out with climate change.

A gene mutation that yields red hair and pale skin which is more sensitive to light leaves DNA in skill cells more prone to sun damage and cancer, and if predictions of rising temperatures are correct evolution might cause it to regress.

Dr Alistair Moffat, managing director of Galashiels-based ScotlandsDNA, said: "We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and in the North of England is adaption to the climate.

"I think the reason for light skin and red hair is that we do not get enough sun and we have to get all the Vitamin D we can.

"If the climate is changing and it is to become more cloudy or less cloudy then this will affect the gene.

"If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.

Only 1-2% of the world's population have red hair, though in Ireland about 10% are ginger, but it is reported that a staggering 46% are carriers of the red-head variants.

In Scotland 13% of the population are ginger and 40% are thought to carry the gene.

Another scientist, who did not wish to be named due to the theoretical nature of the work, told ScotlandNow: "I think the regressive gene is slowly dying out.

"Climate change could see a decline in the number of people with red hair in Scotland.

"It would take many hundreds of years for this to happen.

"Red hair and blue eyes are not adapted to a warm climate.

"It is just a theory but the recessive gene may likely be lost. The recessive gene could be in danger."

Source: The Independent

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