Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn

Christina Hendricks, Prince Harry and Lindsay Lohan. Photo / Thinkstock; Supplied; AP
Christina Hendricks, Prince Harry and Lindsay Lohan. Photo / Thinkstock; Supplied; AP

The red hair gene could be on the way out as it is thought to be a response to cloudy weather in Scotland, something which the country could see less and less of.

A gene mutation that yields red hair and pale skin which is more sensitive to light leaves DNA in skill cells more prone to sun damage and cancer, and if predictions of rising temperatures are correct evolution might cause it to regress.

Dr Alistair Moffat, managing director of Galashiels-based ScotlandsDNA, 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 wish to be named due to the theoretical nature of the work, 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."

Only 1 to 2 per cent of the world's population have red hair, though in Scotland 13 per cent of the population are ginger and 40 per cent are thought to carry the gene.

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- Independent

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