There is only 1-2% of natural redheads in the world. Scotland has the largest redhead population of 13% and 40% are thought to carry the gene. As reported by The Independent, the redhead gene could be on its way out because the gene is thought to be a response to cloudy weather in Scotland; something the country could see less and less of due to global warming.
The mutation that carries red hair and light skin is also more prone to sun damage and cancer, and with the rising temperatures it might cause the redhead gene to regress, scientists suggest.
The managing director of Galashiels-based ScotlandsDNA, Dr Alistair Moffat, said: “We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and in the North of England is adaption to the climate. I think the reason for light skin and red hair is that we do not get enough sun and we have to get all the Vitamin D we can. If the climate is changing and it is to become more cloudy or less cloudy then this will affect the gene. If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.”
Another scientist (who did not want to be named) told ScotlandNow: “I think the regressive gene is slowly dying out. Climate change could see a decline in the number of people with red hair in Scotland. It would take many hundreds of years for this to happen. Red hair and blue eyes are not adapted to a warm climate. It is just a theory but the recessive gene may likely be lost. The recessive gene could be in danger.”
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