Dark Islanders' Blond Hair: Not From Europe

Prpix.com.au via Getty Images
Prpix.com.au via Getty Images

It's not unusual these days to see a brown-skinned person with blond hair, but in the United States, it's normally pretty safe to assume that if the light hue didn't come from a bottle (think Beyoncé, Mary J, Amber Rose and the look Chris Brown sported for a while), it was handed down from a white ancestor, however far removed.


The latter is what many people guessed was going on with the inhabitants of the Solomon Islands, 5 to 10 percent of whom have golden locks, despite being dark-skinned. They figured it must be attributable to Europeans who visited the region in previous centuries.

But now a genetic study has found that a "homegrown" gene different from the one found in Europeans is responsible — in other words, this particular type of blond is actually native to the islands.

From the United Kingdom's Daily Mail:

Now a genetic study has found that the islanders have a 'homegrown' gene that gives them blond hair - and it's different from the one in Europeans.

‘Its frequency is between 5 and 10 percent across the Solomon Islands, which is about the same as where I'm from,’ said study author Eimear Kenny, PhD, who was born in Ireland.

Globally, blond hair is rare, occurring with substantial frequency only in northern Europe and in Oceania, which includes the Solomon Islands and its neighbors.


Many assumed the blond hair of Melanesia was the result of gene flow — a trait passed on by European explorers, traders and others who visited in the preceding centuries.

It's also one of the most linguistically diverse nations in the world, with dozens of languages spoken …


Kenny joined the lab and started the analysis, selecting 43 blond- and 42 dark-haired Solomon Islanders from the opposite 10 percent extremes of the hair pigmentation range …

‘So the human characteristic of blond hair arose independently in equatorial Oceania. That's quite unexpected and fascinating,’ Kenny said.


Read more at the Daily Mail.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.