Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Primal Roots of Red Hair Revealed
Primatologists know humans, apes and monkeys can see red, but have quarreled over what initially locked the adaptation into place. Did it first help primates find meals, or was the ability to see a red-headed, red-skinned mate from a mile away the first benefit of full-color vision?

A new study shows that apes first evolved color vision to help them forage food, after which nature made red the sexiest color around and spiked apes’ evolutionary tree with red hair and skin. The findings are detailed in this week’s issue of the American Naturalist.

AndrĂ© Fernandez, an evolutionary biologist at Ohio University and co-author of the paper, explained that neuroscientists have already found animals are highly attracted to brilliant colors. “So, it is reasonable for primates with trichromatic color vision to respond more when they see bright colors” like red, he said.