Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Where Did The Red Hair Come From?

A colleague referred me to a very interesting webpage about the origins of red hair. If you have red hair or have a friend or family member who does, you will find this page of interest.

Both my first wife and my daughter had auburn hair in their younger days. As they approached 40 their hair browned out. 

Because of their hair color, this article was of interest to me. It claims that red hair is a recessive trait and that it is only found in descendants of the R1b haplogroup. In both the cases of my ex-wife and my daughter this would hold true. My haplogroup is R1b as was the paternal line of my ex-wife. R1b is the most common male haplogroup in Western Europe--perhaps accounting for 40% of the men in that region and a much higher percentage in some parts of the British Isles. So far so good.

However, if red hair is a recessive trait, redheaded children must also inherit the gene from their mother as well. I wonder which female haplogroup(s) carry this trait. Both my ex-wife and I have inherited different versions of the female haplotype H. Again H is the most common female haplotype in Western Europe. Do other female haplotypes carry this recessive gene? If not it would take an R1b male and an H female to create a redheaded child. But perhaps others can carry this recessive gene. Someday soon we may have the answer to this question.

In the meantime could this offer some new clues to redheaded orphans?


  1. Oh, this is so interesting. My grandson reddish hair, his dad isn't a "fan" of red hair I thought hooray! My grandfather Lewis Q. Dowell had the most beautiful Auburn hair I have ever seen. Thanks Dave this was good reading.

  2. Carolyn Dyess BalesOctober 6, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    This is very interesting. I have red hair; and, so did my dad. He was R1b - I am an "I" Iris. There are a few red heads on mom's side; but, mostly on dad's side.

  3. The "male" haplotypes, as well as the "female" don't carry anything but a trace.
    Theses studies are about an original correlation betwen a main phenotype within a population and the main Y-DNA within this population. This correlation weakens with the time and the blending of populations.
    Today, an I1 male can be black, an RIB can be blond or brown, and a J can be redhead.

  4. Today an I1 male can appear black. His I1 is only the input from his paternal > paternal > paternal line. His "blackness" can come from all or most of his other lines.

    There are 37 genes located on the Y-chromosome. Anything that is passed down from them would correlate with the paternal haplogroup.

    I would like to see the actual "science" behind the red hair clams as well as science to the contrary.

    This is a very new field and we all have a lot to learn.

  5. For those of you following genetic links to red hair here is a link to a new article from England:
    and a brief SNPedia article: