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Thursday, September 20, 2007

End of redheads? Or Nat'l Geographic's good sense?

Alas and woe, the September 2007 National Geographic — which was brought to my attention by a friend at a dinner party last night — digs up the unsettling (but unbelievable) news that some scientists expect redheads to be extinct by 2100. Surely I will be extinct by then, but unless some extraordinary calamity falls upon all the offspring of today's redheads, I'm quite sure there will still be members of our identity caucus roaming the earth.

The short magazine story appears to have picked up the tale from articles way back in May 2005 reporting that the Oxford Hair Foundation (ooh! that sounds trustworthy!) predicts our extinction in less than a century. Naturally, I appreciated this note of skepticism:

But with 4 percent of 6.4 billion people carrying the gene, says University of Rochester Medical Center's David Pearce, it is too large a figure to be wiped out completely in the next 95 years.

"I think someone may want to check their calculator," he says.

Also worth noting: The alarmist scientists are (or were) part of a Procter and Gamble Hair Care research group. Surely someone at National Geographic must have thought this story didn't quite pass the plausibility test.

("Will rare redheads be extinct by 2100?" Robin L. Flanigan [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle], Seattle Times 5.9.05)

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 20 September 2007 at 8:19 AM

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September 20, 2007 09:53 AM | Permalink for this comment

Since the prediction comes from P&G's product research department, it's more likely to reflect overconfidence in the future market penetration of their hair coloring products than certain genetic doom.


September 20, 2007 10:00 AM | Permalink for this comment

Aha! Perhaps P&G has figured out how redheads can dye their famously dye-impervious hair! That's what they mean by no more "natural" redheads: We'll dye off!


September 20, 2007 10:24 AM | Permalink for this comment

That is so wild.


September 20, 2007 11:51 AM | Permalink for this comment

Umm... Aren't redheads supposed to be sexier? (If not, I'm dyeing my hair the wrong color.) Would seem to me that would help y'all breed...


hafidha sofia:

September 20, 2007 01:29 PM | Permalink for this comment

Hmm. Maybe it's another sign that brown people are teeming over the earth! You usually have to be pretty european-ish to have red hair. Although, several years ago while at the mall, I spotted an eight or nine year old black girl with dark red hair plaited into a braid that went all the way down her back. Anne of Green Gables put to shame!

Have hope, Philo - and reproduce!

Brian D.:

September 21, 2007 12:59 AM | Permalink for this comment

My daughter's seems to be turning to more of an auburn color, much to the delight of my father (his mother had red hair), and my mother-in-law, who has red hair.

When I grow my beard out, I have several red hairs intermingled with the black and...gasp--gray hairs!

I have done my best to ensure that red hair does not go extinct!


September 22, 2007 03:33 AM | Permalink for this comment

P&G? Red hair extinct? Maybe that's why it's so hard to find good, natural-looking red hair color anymore: they are saying it will be extinct because they are going to make it extinct. Perhaps they have missed the fact that there are natural redheads and think there are only dyed ones? :-)


September 25, 2007 07:53 AM | Permalink for this comment

Perhaps part of the issue is the decreased pressure to produce children with partners of one's own (primary) racial group. Since red is a recessive gene, mere carriers are not enough -- it is how we mate that matters.

What IS a redhead anyway? Do these sunny-day glints in beards really count on their own -- or only if they produce children whose whole heads flame as much as Philocrites'?

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