Researchers of ancestry company Britain’s DNA have created the first map showing the distribution of redhead genes. Their results published on August 24, 2013 suggest that more than 20 million people in Ireland and the UK carry genes that cause red hair and there are more carriers of the red gene than previously understood.
This unique map looks at the concentration of redheads across Ireland, Britain and Scotland and shows where the genes are most concentrated. The results show that the highest concentration is in south-east Scotland where 40 percent carry one of the common variants. They also show that in Yorkshire and Humberside 34 percent are carriers, which makes those areas as redheaded as Ireland.
A spokesman for the project told the Daily Mail, “But millions of people in Britain and Ireland have no idea they are carriers. Our project at last reveals just how red-headed a nation we really are.” The spokesman also said, “The study has found that the ‘number of people in Britain and Ireland who are carriers is very large indeed. We estimate a total of 20.4 million people are carriers of the red hair variants.”
The project took a year to research and the results were published to coincide with the upcoming Redhead Convention in Crosshaven in County Cork, Ireland this weekend. Two weeks ago more than a hundred people marched in the UK’s first Ginger Pride parade which was held in Edinburgh to protest prejudice against people with red hair.
The Daily Mail quoted Dr. Jim Wilson, a geneticist at Edinburgh University and a chief scientist at Britain’s DNA, “The big surprise for me was that the frequency of the redhead variants was lower in the NW of Scotland, where many people probably think there are more redheads than elsewhere.” He continued, “However, this makes sense when we realise that just like in the Midlands and South of England, this probably means that the genes of the indigenous people have been diluted, in the north by Norse Vikings and in the south by Anglo-Saxons.”
Britain’s DNA collected research from 2,343 people who underwent DNA tests to learn more about their ancestry. Their research looked at three variations of the MC1R gene, which causes red hair. Red hair is recessive, which means that both parents must be carriers for their child to be a redhead and even then there is only a 25 percent chance the child will have red hair.
Britain’s DNA aspires to continue their red hair research and study all the variants of the redhead gene. They expect the results of future studies will show the number of red hair carriers is even higher.