Evolution is awesome! A native group of people living on the Soloman Islands northeast of Australia called Melanesians is famous for their beautiful dark skin and naturally blonde hair.
The odd combination has got scientists wondering about how such a color combo develops over time. According to the Global Financial Newswires, many scientists have long thought that their blonde hair was a result of a diet high in fish, perhaps bleaching by the sun and salt water, or a reminder of the island’s historic relations with people of European descent.
In fact, the blonde Melanesians have blonde that is unique solely to them. According to the study in which scientists compared 43 blonde hair islanders to 42 dark hair islanders, blonde Melanesians have a variant of a native gene called TYRP1 that plays an important role in the melanin biosynthetic pathway. This variant is completely separate from what causes blonde hair in Europeans, and doesn’t even exist in the European genetic set.
What’s truly beautiful in this fascinating discovery, as so perfectly stated by the study author Sean Myles, a geneticist at Nova Scotia Agricultural College, is that “it’s a great example of convergent evolution, where the same outcome is brought about by completely different means.”
Paleontologist Norman MacLeod of The Natural History Museum recently commented on the Sykes hair analysis paper, doing an excellent job at providing perspective while bringing into question the hair samples that were not included in the analysis:
"Does this evidence disprove the legends of the Yeti, Migyhur, Almasty, Sasquatch/Bigfoot? It does not. Scientific hypothesis testing of this sort is not designed to, and cannot, prove hypotheses alternative to the null hypothesis. All that can be said with confidence is that the results obtained by the Sykes team for the 29 samples that yielded DNA sequences failed to reject the null hypothesis that these samples came from species already known to science. Interestingly, despite the fact that most cryptozoologists have suggested the cryptids in question are unknown primate species, not one of the Sykes team’s sequences yielded DNA that could be shown to have come from any non-human primate. Nevertheless, 19 of the original 55 bona fide hair samples submitted originally to the Sykes team did not produce DNA sequences. The taxonomic affinity of these samples remains unknown and science has nothing further to say about them, at least for the moment. From a scientific point of view, these samples return to the category of ambiguous evidence insofar as they cannot offer any unambiguous information that can be used to refute the null hypothesis of no link to any presently unknown (primate) species.” Full story at the Proceedings of Royal Society Publishing!
Cryptid Chronicles readers, what do YOU think?
Your Cryptid Chronicler, Sydney Colvin
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Genetic research has already discovered that early humans in Europe mingled genes (bumped uglies) with Neanderthals, now it looks like Tibetans’ unique tolerance for extremely high altitudes can directly be traced to genes from another long extinct hominid race, the Denisovans. Denisovans were one of many ancient human species that lived at the same time as early Homo sapiens. The genes that Tibetans inherited allow for a better use of blood oxygen at higher altitudes that would make lesser mortals’ blood thicken above 15,000 feet to deadly levels.