Even if both parents do not have red hair themselves, both can be carriers for the gene and have a redheaded child.
Genetic studies of dizygotic (fraternal) twins indicate that the MC1R gene is not solely responsible for the red hair phenotype; unidentified modifier genes exist, making variance in the MC1R gene necessary, but not always sufficient, for red hair production.
Reddish-brown (auburn) hair is also found amongst some Polynesians, and is especially common in some tribes and family groups.
In Polynesian culture reddish hair has traditionally been seen as a sign of descent from high-ranking ancestors and a mark of rulership.
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In species other than primates, red hair has different genetic origins and mechanisms.
Because of the natural tanning reaction to the sun's ultraviolet light and high amounts of pheomelanin in the skin, freckles are a common but not all-inclusive feature of red-haired people.Eighty percent of redheads have an MC1R gene variant.Red hair can originate from several changes on the MC1R-gene.In the United States, it is estimated that 2–6% of the population has red hair. In Asia, red hair has been found among the ancient Tocharians, who occupied the Tarim Basin in what is now the northwesternmost province of China.Caucasian Tarim mummies have been found with red hair dating to the 2nd millennium BC.
The non-tanning skin associated with red hair may have been advantageous in far-northern climates where sunlight is scarce.