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article imageUpdate: Redheads NOT going extinct

By Chris V. Thangham     Sep 11, 2007 in Health
There was news last month from National Geographic article that redheads will become extinct soon, which became quite a bit of controversy and concern. But today researchers say redheads are here to stay and they will be around well beyond 2060.
In August 2007, many news organizations reported that redheads would eventually become extinct. And blogs and social networks like Digg, DJ picked up the story as well. Most of them cited the source came from “Oxford Hair Foundation” or “genetic scientists”.
According to this article, this story had surfaced earlier before and it had quoted Oxford Hair Foundation as the source. They based on the assumption that recessive genes like the one for red hair might die out, but which is not true, they may resurface at a later period. Check the comments in my previous article, our DJ writers Wanderlaugh and Torrence have given good explanation about the recessive genes and that the red hair won’t get extinct any soon. Thus the red head might remain rare but they may resurface again at different time, it won’t get extinct for now unless there is a global catastrophe.
Because of the September article of National Geographic about redheads going extinct, the news spread like wildfire and caused this myth. So, unless we get extensive reports and findings, we can dispel this myth for now. According to, the National Geographic article doesn’t give any specific facts. I tried to locate the actual article again in National Geographic, no luck so far.
David Pearce from the University of Rochester Medical Center told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in 2005, when the redhead extinction news came at that time: “the scientists behind the original claim should ‘check their calculator’”.
Rick Sturm, researcher from the hair and skin genetics at the University of Queensland told the Australian Broadcasting Company that the Oxford Hair Foundation didn’t provide any sufficient scientific evidence to prove their findings and he also said there is no shortage of redheads in the world.
Red hair is caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene. The gene is also a recessive trait, if both parents are redheads they pass on this MC1R gene to their offspring. In some cases, the red hair can skip a generation or two and resurface again, whatever hair color the parents in the middle have.
So, the campaign “Save the Redheads” is closed for now. There are always genetic changes in mankind in the long run which helps them to cope with the environment they live in. Every hair color is special in its own way.
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