When visting Melanesia Solomon Islands which is about 1800 Kilometers to the northeast of Australia you will notice unusual contrast, ten percent of the islanders who live here have afros that are bright and blond.The theories behind the origins of the blond afros are saltwater and bleaching by the sun, their diet which is usually rich in fish and a genetic legacy of Americans or Europeans. But a new study by scientists shows it is random mutation that has led to this, the study suggests that blond hair has evolved independently twice in the history of human beings.
Author Sean Myles who is geneticist at Nova Agricultural College which is in Truro, Canada, discovered that in Solomon Island a person had either blond hair or one dark hair. He saw no variation in shade, it was obvious that the trait was in binary form, although the human hair colour trait is usully determined by mutiple genes.
To discover the bueprint of this underlying gene, Myles together with other scentists collected hair and saliva samples which were to be used for a study. In total they collected 1209 samples from the Islanders at island of Solomon. They used smaller sample because the difference was only blond and dark hair. They used 43 blond and 42 dark haired islanders and compared their genetic make up and found that each group had a different essential gene that was coded for a protein which was involved in the hair pigmentation.Replacing or switching this protein brught about the blond and dark hair. The same process occurs to create blond mice by the reduction of the content of melanin in their fur.
This gene that is mutant is present in 26% percent of the solomon island’s population. The blond haired islanders carry two copies of this gene. Jonathan Friedlaender who is an antropologist att Temple university in Philadephia, Pennysylvania said that the mutation which does not have any advantages may have come by chance to one individual and then it may have drifted to a very high frequency in the Solomon islands. Jonathan who did not participate in the research continued to say that the island was only populated by very small groups of people who could make it across these islands bringing about dramatic effects in the fluctuations of the gene frequency.
The final outcomes of the study as Myles says, will help to deconstruct an assumption of the world about the origins of blond hair. He is hoping that the study will bring attention to the more greater issue of the other novel genes that most of the scientists are missing when they only concetrate on genomes of the Europeans. He said tat i also means that any gene can be found anywhere all over the world in underrepresented populations.
Rasmus Nielson who is a population geneticist from the University of California, Berkely. Believes that millions of dollars are being lost by studying gene traits in Europeans which have already been studied,this study should encourage the study of diverse populations. There are still a lot of knowledge which is to be gained from these studies.