Proof at last: gen­tle­men do pre­fer blondes

The Southland Times - - WORLD -

BRITAIN: Re­searchers con­duct­ing the largest ge­netic in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hair colour have dis­cov­ered that, among peo­ple of Euro­pean de­scent, women are 20 per cent more likely to have blonde hair than men.

It means that, as hu­mans have evolved, blonde women have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately more suc­cess­ful at pass­ing on their genes.

A team at King’s Col­lege Lon­don set out to dis­cover why. Us­ing their dis­cov­ery of more than 100 new genes known to play a ma­jor role in de­ter­min­ing hu­man hair colour, they at­tempted to iden­tify any con­nec­tions be­tween the ‘‘blonde genes’’ and those known to in­flu­ence good or poor health.

They also sought to es­tab­lish any links be­tween a ge­netic propen­sity for blon­de­ness and fem­i­nin­ity it­self in the X chro­mo­some. None, how­ever, was found.

The study has led them to con­clude that through­out hu­man his­tory, blonde women have en­joyed a ‘‘mat­ing pref­er­ence’’. In other words, men have been more likely to want to pro­cre­ate with them sim­ply be­cause of how they look.

To iden­tify the pre­vi­ously un­known hair colour genes, the re­searchers an­a­lysed DNA data from al­most 300,000 peo­ple of Euro­pean de­scent, to­gether with their self-re­ported hair colour in­for­ma­tion.

‘‘Our work helps us to un­der­stand what causes hu­man diver­sity in ap­pear- ance, by show­ing how genes in­volved in pig­men­ta­tion sub­tly adapted to ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ments and even so­cial in­ter­ac­tions dur­ing our evo­lu­tion,’’ said re­searcher Pro­fes­sor Tim Spec­tor.

‘‘We found that women have sig­nif­i­cantly fairer hair than men, which re­flects how im­por­tant cul­tural prac­tices and sex­ual pref­er­ences are in shap­ing our genes and bi­ol­ogy.’’

The team has said it be­lieves the dis­cov­ery of the new genes will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the abil­ity of foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tors to track down crim­i­nals us­ing DNA. It also prom­ises new in­sights into con­di­tions re­lated to skin pig­men­ta­tion, such as skin, tes­tic­u­lar, prostate and ovar­ian can­cers. – Tele­graph Group

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