Although blonde hair has traditionally been considered a Caucasian trait, in Australia, some black people are actually born with the golden locks that many American women attain via a bottle. The golden strands of hair framing the dark skin of the face is truly a wonderful sight: These locks are reminiscent of sunbeams falling from the sky.
The People of the Islands of Melanesia
Melanesia consists of several islands that rest within a sub region of Oceania. Melanesia islands include: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. One theory stated that salt-water whitening, sun exposure, excess fish consumption, American or European heritage were responsible for the light hair color. However, a study conducted by Sean Myles contradicts these assumptions.
Geneticist Discovers the Reason Black People of Melanesia Have Blonde Hair
Scientists were having difficulty determining how black people could be born with blonde hair; however, Sean Myles, who is a geneticist from Canada’s Nova Scotia Agricultural College, has ascertained the reason for this unique characteristic among Melanesians. The striking blonde hair is inherited via a set of native genes (TYRP1). This TYRP1 gene is unique to Melanesians and does not exist in the genetic profile of Europeans: Therefore, discrediting this previous theory.
Sample Collection and Examination
Sean Myles and his team collected hair samples and saliva from more than 1,200 Solomon Island residents. Once samples were collected, the group examined and compared them. They found variations in an essential gene that was responsible for coding a protein in pigmentation.
The blonde Melanesians carried two copies of this mutant gene (representing approximately 30 percent of Solomon Island’s population). Since the TYRP1 gene is recessive, it must be inherited directly from both parents.
Advancements in science have made determining our ancestry easier than ever. Many people are hiring companies like AncestryDNA to decipher their DNA and determine their full ethnicity. Then, they take these results to begin building or adding on to their family tree.