On Melanesian Blonde Hair By Brian Simpson

     This article goes back to a little snip that I took from The Australian, way back on May 5, 2012, p. 69, about blonde-hair found among the dark-skinned people of the Solomon Islands. I returned to find the article, which I put aside, when one of my students from the Solomon Islands, a really nice lad, said that there were a lot of people with dark skin and blonde hair. He said that while some  of them claimed to have European ancestors, he dismissed this and put the blondness down to diet. It seems that most of the lighter haired people often acted in a superior way, which deeply annoyed my student. More probing revealed that his girlfriend had gone off with one of these blonde types and he did not like them.

     Researching this I found the scientific article, E. Kenny (et al.), “Melanesian Blond Hair is Caused by an Amino Acid change in TYRp1,” Science, vol. 336, p. 554.  It seems, to cut the complexities, that the blonde hair is the product of a genetic mutation in gene TYRP1, and that’s that.  But since then, I have run into a biologist from the Solomon’s who had blonde hair and dark skin, and said that as a child he sang songs about his European ancestors. Even though he was a biologist, who knew much more science than me, he reacted aggressively to the mutation claim, and said that this line of thought was undermining his heritage. Now there is a pretty pickle for you!
     Who says that the exploration of racial differences is not fascinating, revealing the complexity and genuine diversity of the human species, with all the politics thrown in for good measure.

 

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Sunday, 20 September 2020
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