To some, light colored hair and dark skin tones are manipulated and chemically processed to achieve a style, but for the Melanesian people of Solomon Islands, blonde hair with dark skin is naturally inherited. This trait was so intriguing to many, that a study was conducted by a geneticist, Sean Myles, and his colleagues to find out more about this combination.
Before the study, there were theories of European decedents and as stated by the an article by Erin Loury, “The Origin of Blond Afros in Melanesia”:
Hypotheses about the origins of this golden hair have included bleaching by sun and saltwater, a diet rich in fish, and the genetic legacy of Europeans or Americans.
However, the study presented Myles with interesting data. His team gathered 1209 Solomon Islanders and collected saliva and hair samples in search of an genetic relation to the trait. Further more:
They compared the entire genetic makeup of 43 blond and 42 dark-haired islanders. The two groups, they found, had different versions of a crucial gene, one that coded for a protein involved in pigmentation. Switching one “letter” of genetic code-replacing a “C” with a “T”-meant the difference between dark hair and blond hair. A similar mutation creates blond mice by reducing the melanin content in their fur.
In conclusion, blonde hair and dark skin is not as unnatural as some may think. Even scientist are taken back by this new found data:
The results, says Myles, help deconstruct a Eurocentric view of the world in thinking about where blond hair comes from. He hopes the paper will draw attention to the bigger issue of other novel genes that scientists may be missing by concentrating on the genomes of Europeans.
Read more: http://news.sciencemag.org/2012/05/origin-blond-afros-melanesia
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