Carrot-top, ginger, cherry, big red and bonzo are just some of the taunts aimed at the redheaded amongst us.
While there are plenty of glamorous redheads in the film and music industries…being an average redhead is cause for less celebration in everyday society.
But all that may be about to change, with geneticists from Scotland’s DNA developing a powerful tool to combat the prejudice against flame-haired individuals: knowledge.
The scientists want non-redheads to know that they too play a role in contributing to the redheads amongst us.
The group collected spit samples from over 4,000 British participants to ascertain whether they carried the redhead gene or not. The results showed that non-redheads have a one-in-three chance of producing a redheaded heir or grandchild.
That’s something to be proud of, they say, pointing out that the flame-haired trait is an example of good evolution and not a result of connection to northern latitudes – such as the Netherlands – as previously thought.
“If that was true red hair would be very prevalent in Scandinavia and it’s not nearly as prevalent there as it is here and it’s because Ireland, Scotland, and England live in an Atlantic climate which is cloudy, and so to get enough Vitamin D absorbed through our system it’s good to be red hair, we’ve evolved well to be redheaded,” said Alistair Moffat, one of Scotland DNA’s founders.
The geneticists uncovered three redhead genetic variations with would have evolved in the time since our evolutionary cousins roamed the area – but still go back a long way.
“…There’s tryptophan-red, histidine-red, and cysteine-red and two of them are very old, they’re 70,000 years old and everybody with cysteine-red or tryptophan-red is descended from a single individual, from the first person to ever have it, probably in west Asia, probably about 70,000 years ago,” Moffat told Reuters reporters, adding that Scotland is home to the majority of redheaded Britons.
While some redheaded campaigners believe that discrimination against redheads should be considered a hate crime, the geneticists hope that if the bullies learn that they too may be carriers of the gene, they may begin to appreciate their flame-haired friends – proving that sometimes knowledge really is power!