A new report in Scotland says the red hair gene could be on the way out as it is thought to be a response to cloudy weather.
The London Independent newspaper says the reduction in cloudy weather in Scotland and Ireland will lead to a reduction in the number of redheads.
The report says that a gene mutation that yields red hair and pale skin which is more sensitive to light leaves DNA in skin cells more prone to sun damage and cancer.
The paper adds that 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 adaptation 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.”
A fellow scientist, who declined to be named, told the paper: “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.”
Statistics show that one to two percent of the world’s population have red hair.
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