An Irish Stereotype Update: Will Redheads One Day Be Extinct?


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If you’re shaking your head and laughing at me right now, I want to point out this is a very legitimate fear of mine. I’ve been concerned that redheads will become extinct for a very long time.

And it’s not entirely my fault. The rumor started several years ago, first surfacing in 2005. Fingers pointed to the Oxford Hair Foundation as the likely source of claims that by 2060 the redhead gene would be eliminated from society.

A few popular news outlets picked up the claim, carrying over to blogs and other online media sources. Ultimately, the whispers down the lane just got out of control. As if 2005 wasn’t bad enough, the rumor resurfaced in 2007, giving my fragile psyche a second scare.

And it wasn’t limited to redheads in Ireland; all redheads were in danger of extinction. So, for years, each time I ran into someone showcasing that coveted carrot-top hair, I’d look at them stoically and say, “You need to make redheaded babies. Otherwise, redheads are going to be extinct.”

Well, lo and behold, while researching the Irish stereotypes associated with redheads, guess what I found out? The whole thing was a tall tale. This staple of Irish culture isn’t going anywhere. The study was done by How Stuff Works , who published an article clarifying the world wouldn’t be missing out on reds anytime soon.

According to experts, the MC1R gene, responsible for the mutation that causes red hair, is far too prevalent in too many people to cause extinction. Other specialists in skin and hair genetics reiterate that anyone afraid of losing gingers forever should check their calculator.

Of course, we need to keep in mind that both parents must possess the recessive gene (MC1R) in order to produce a redheaded child. But for those of us who continue to stand in envy of strawberry flowing locks, not to worry – they’re here to stay.


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