Updates in DNA studies along with Anthropological Notes of general interest with a particular emphasis on points pertinent to the study of Ancient Israelite Ancestral Connections to Western Peoples as explained in Brit-Am studies.
The Brit-Am Rose
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BAMAD no. 59
Brit-Am Anthropology and DNA Update
10 September 2009, 21 Elul 5769
1. Ancient European DNA Was Much Different from the Present!
2. Special gene found in red haired women
3. Annual Red-Haired Day in Breda,
1. Ancient European DNA Was Much
Different from the Present!
Europe's first farmers replaced
their Stone Age hunter-gatherer forerunners
Analysis of ancient DNA from skeletons suggests that Europe's first farmers were
not the descendants of the people who settled the area after the retreat of the
ice sheets. ... The researchers analyzed DNA from hunter-gatherer and early
farmer burials, and compared those to each other and to the DNA of modern
Europeans. They conclude that there is little evidence of a direct genetic link
between the hunter-gatherers and the early farmers, and
82 percent of the types of
found in the hunter-gatherers are relatively rare in central Europeans today.
Now, a team from Mainz University in Germany, together with researchers from UCL
(University College London) and Cambridge, have found that the first farmers in
central and northern Europe could not have been the descendents of the
hunter-gatherers that came before them. But what is even more surprising, they
also found that modern Europeans couldn't solely be the descendents of either
the hunter-gatherer alone, or the first farmers alone, and are unlikely to be a
mixture of just those two groups. "This is really odd", said Professor Mark
Thomas, a population geneticist at UCL and co-author of the study. "For more
than a century the debate has centered around how much we are the descendents of
European hunter-gatherers and how much we are the descendents of Europe's early
farmers. For the first time we are now able to directly compare the genes of
these Stone Age Europeans, and what we
find is that some DNA types just aren't there - despite being common in
"Our analysis shows that there is no direct continuity between hunter-gatherers
and farmers in Central Europe," says Prof Joachim Burger. "As the
hunter-gatherers were there first, the farmers must have immigrated into the
The new study confirms what Joachim Burger's team showed in 2005; that the first
farmers were not the direct ancestors of modern European. Burger says "We are
still searching for those remaining components of modern European ancestry.
European hunter-gatherers and early farmers alone are not enough.
But new ancient DNA data from later
periods in European prehistory may shed also light on this in the future."
2. Special gene found in red haired
AUTHOR: Tim Utton
Blondes, they say, have more fun. But redheads have a definite edge when the
going gets tough, according to scientists.
A gene found in flame-haired women means they are better at coping with pain
than blondes or brunettes.
The research could help to explain the strong character of famous redheads down
the ages - from Cleopatra, Nell Gwynne and Florence Nightingale to Lulu.
The gene, called Mc1r, is linked to ginger hair and fair skin. But while it
gives women a higher pain threshold, it does not have the same effect on their
male counterparts, researchers found.
Scientists at McGill University in Montreal believe this is because there are
subtle differences in the way the male and female brains process pain.
Normally when humans and other mammals experience discomfort, the body reacts to
dull it by releasing natural substances which are similar to medications such as
Professor Jeffrey Mogil and his colleagues decided to mimic this effect by
giving women doses of an artificial painkiller and seeing how effective it
They chose four groups of ten volunteers. Each was given the painkiller,
pentacozine, and then subjected to varying degrees of pain.
The painkilling effect on redheaded women was three times as great as in the
The findings could help doctors make better choices when it comes to prescribing
pain medication, Professor Mogil said. Pinpointing relevant genes should help
doctors tailor dosages of drugs to each patient's needs.
Beyond the sex differences, it was clear that there are genetic differences
which affect how well a drug will work, he added.
The results of the study are published this week in Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.
In other recent research, scientists have found that ginger hair and a pale skin
offer an important advantage in the survival game.
Redheads boast a secret genetic weapon which enables them to fight off certain
debilitating and potentially deadly illnesses more efficiently than blondes or
A pale complexion permits more sunlight into the skin, where it encourages the
production of vitamin D. This helps to prevent rickets, a disease which
progressively weakens bone structures, and the lung disease tuberculosis, which
can be fatal.
Red hair is mostly found in northwest-Europe and there are far more redheads in
Scotland and Ireland than anywhere else. Between 7 and 10 per cent of Scots have
The downside of pale skin, however, is that it increases the risk of skin cancer
in areas with strong prolonged sunlight.
3. Annual Red-Haired Day in
Eager participants of all ages have painted a Dutch town "ginger" for the annual
Redhead Day in the Netherlands.
Thousands of redheads including a legion of children celebrated their day at
Breda with picnics, art, workshops and competitions.
The event, Roodharigendag, was created in part to help spread awareness about
redheads ? who make up about 1 percent of the population worldwide and are
becoming rarer, according to genetic research.
(b) Hit & Run: Red hair? It's so this
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
As a child I used to get called "Duracell", "copper-coloured top", "ginger-nut"
and "Orangina", admits Jordan Adams. "When I was a teenager groups of boys used
to hang out of their car windows and yell at me, 'gingaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar!'"
There's little chance that Adams, a 35-year-old music teacher from Brighton,
would have heard these "gingerphobic" terms bandied about at Roodharigendag
(redhead day) in the Dutch city of Breda. The two-day event, which took place
last weekend, is a gathering for people with natural red hair. The event, which
started in 2005, was the brainchild of Bart Rouwenhorst, a 38-year-old Dutch
scientist and a part-time artist who, to start with, wanted to paint 15
red-headed models. However, after placing an ad in a local newspaper, he
attracted 150 models, and decided to photograph them all in Breda's town centre.
The idea of a group photo featuring redheads snowballed in popularity and last
year 2,000 of them from 20 countries were featured for the picture; around 3,000
turned up this year.
"Redheads always stand out and it's difficult to find a place in this world,"
explains Rouwenhorst. "This is a festival that celebrates difference."
But red hair appears to be fiercely fashionable. BBC2's preposterous Desperate
Romantics focused on the Pre-Raphaelite painters and their adoration of
redheads, Hollywood's newest sweetheart Amy Adams is red and proud, flame-tressed
Lily Cole is arguably our "hottest" model and the third in line to the throne,
Prince Harry, is a ginger. The increasing success of Roodharigendag, the
festival is experiencing "100 per cent growth each year", is another sign
of a redhead renaissance.
"This festival is unique," adds Rouwenhorst, whose favourite redheads, for the
record, are Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and Meryl Streep. "The
people don't come for somebody famous who has red hair, they come for each
Rousing stuff and it makes me, a reddish-head myself, want to break into "all we
are saying is give redheads a chance". However, a lot of redheads don't feel the
"The very notion of a redhead festival depresses the hell out of me," says
29-year-old Dan Sait. "I don't subscribe to this 'we're special' crap, either.
As far as I'm aware I have no special ginger-witch powers, I just happen to have
a hair colour that makes white van men want to throw empty cigarette packets at
James Spencer, a 37-year-old from Ipswich, concurs, pointing out: "I wish I'd
thought of such a pointless way to make money." Rachel Drayson, a 29-year-old
teacher from Surrey, is a little more relaxed about the idea, but confesses she
"might be unnerved by my sudden non-uniqueness".
Bart, who is blonde, not ginger, points out that there is a little prejudice
towards redheads in Holland, but maintains it appears much worse in England.
Sait agrees: "As an English bloke with red hair I've certainly had to put up
with way more than my fair share of random abuse but there's nothing I can do
"As a kid the abuse was non-stop. Amazingly, at nearly 30 years old, I still,
very occasionally, get people bellowing "Ginga!" from cars."
Perhaps it's time to follow Rouwenhorst's lead and set up a British Rood-harigendag.
After all, if it can happen in the Netherlands, where only 2 per cent of the
country has red hair, maybe it's only a matter of time until the Scotland (13
per cent) and Ireland (with 10 per cent) embrace the idea of a redhead
celebration too. Here's to UK redhead day 2010. Ben Walsh
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