Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some Neanderthals were red-heads
An analysis of 50,000-year-old Neanderthal DNA suggests that at least some of the ancient hominids probably had pale skin and red hair.

The findings, published this week in Science 1, are based on the sequence of a single gene, called mc1r . Humans with a less functional form of the MC1R protein are more likely to be fair skinned — an adaptation that may have helped inhabitants of high latitudes synthesize vitamin D more efficiently in limited sunlight.