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    Geographic prevalence of the new allele for blond hair (Guenther et al., 2014). Just one of many alleles that create the European palette of hair and eye colors. There is a widespread belief that whatever made Europeans fair-skinned also gave them their unique palette of hair and eye colors. In reality, fair skin has only...
  • "the bell curve for IQ is broad enough that distinct social classes appeared across the world and throughout history, as you yourself have pointed out on this blog."

    Not really. I've referred to Gregory Clark's argument that the relative reproductive success of the middle class gradually altered the English gene pool. But that's hardly a case of a balanced polymorphism for IQ or any other trait. That is simply one set of heritable traits gradually displacing another set.

    I've also referred to other cases, like the Cagots in France and the Burakumin in Japan where this kind of demographic turnover cannot proceed to completion because a caste has become reproductively isolated. I suppose you can call that diversification, but the diversification is not taking place within a single population, as is the case with hair color.

    In all this, we shouldn't lose sight of the main point. Selection usually reduces genetic varability within a population. If it doesn't, something unusual is going on.

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  • Anon I,

    "The shape of the distribution is irrelevant"

    The shape is relevant, at least to our discussion. A unimodal distribution does not indicate a balanced polymorphism. A multimodal distribution does.

    All traits have some degree of variability because random mutations are always arising and because the force of stabilizing selection is not sufficient to elminate all variability.

    "Keep in mind that with hair color we're looking at a large number of alleles for a single trait. This is not the usual pattern."

    And? The number of alleles affecting IQ is so numerous that …"

    I'm sorry. Maybe I didn't express myself clearly. I'm talking about multiple alleles that seem to exist in a balanced polymorphism at a single genetic loci. That sort of pattern is not usual.

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  • "We don't see a diversification of IQ scores in any human population that I know of. Please enlighten me if I'm wrong. The typical pattern is something like a bell curve, i.e., most people clump around the median with fewer people as one goes out to the left-hand or right-hand tail."

    The shape of the distribution is irrelevant – the bell curve for IQ is broad enough that distinct social classes appeared across the world and throughout history, as you yourself have pointed out on this blog.

    Of course, we also see non-bell-curve distributions in traits like baldness. And in fact, male pattern baldness is found to be somewhat higher in European males, as per

    Axel M. Hillmer et al (2009). "Recent positive selection of a human androgen receptor/ectodysplasin A2 receptor haplotype and its relationship to male pattern baldness," Human Genetics.

    So, was this caused by selection or varied male appearance?

    "Keep in mind that with hair color we're looking at a large number of alleles for a single trait. This is not the usual pattern."

    And? The number of alleles affecting IQ is so numerous that scientists are having trouble isolating any that have a meaningful effect.

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  • Stephen,

    The MC1R gene alone has 11 nonsynonymous alleles in Europeans (compared to a base value of 1 in Africans). Let's suppose that modern humans are the result of hybridization between three different groups (the model being advanced by David Reich). Each of these three groups has a different MC1R allele. You still haven't accounted for the proliferation of MC1R alleles over a relatively short time span. Moreover, as this latest paper has shown, this proliferation has occurred at other gene loci.

    Boys and girls diverge in skin pigmentation during adolescence, but this divergence isn't due to rising testosterone levels in boys. It's due to girls becoming lighter-skinned and boys less so, i.e., the girls are the ones who change.

    In any case, your basic point escapes me. If sexual selection acted primarily on men, it would tend to favor men with exaggerated male traits. Among other things, it would favor men with a darker and ruddier skin. Since most genes for skin color are not sex-linked, the entire population — both men and women — would darken in skin color. This is the reverse of what happened in Europeans.

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  • We should remember that for a gene to be selected for it first has to appear in someone who survives to reproduce. A selection pressure may exist for a long time before the right mutation that will be spread by it appears. A new gene may first appear somewhere it is poorly adapted before spreading to somewhere it is advantageous and becomes more numerous. Testosterone seems to increase pigmentation in all humans so even if the selection for pale skin was primarily in males I would still expect European males to be slightly more tanned because that is what testosterone does in most humans. You would have to wait allot longer for a mutation which specifically reverses the the signal testosterone has on pigment production than a simpler mutation that suppresses pigment in general.

    I eagerly await the sequencing of more ancient skeletons. But from what we have perhaps it seems that the Neolithic expansion brought together depigmentation genes from Eastern Europe and Western Europe to create a new hybrid ultra depigmented race. We could imagine a scenario where where people with rare combinations of recesive genes giving them eyes the color of the sky, hair the color of copper or golden sun, and skin the color of the clouds and the moon become the top priests and shamans in bronze age sun cults with access to many concubines from there devoted worshipers spreading there genes until they become to common to be a marker of elite status.

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  • "Polymorphisms in the MC1R gene are a major source of normal variation of human hair color and skin pigmentation, response to ultraviolet radiation (UVR), and skin cancer susceptibility. The identification of a surprisingly high number of MC1R natural variants strongly associated with pigmentary phenotypes and increased skin cancer risk has prompted research on the functional properties of the wild-type receptor and frequent mutant alleles" Here

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  • Spageti,

    We have historical and linguistic evidence for a migration from the Arabian Peninsula to the highlands of Ethiopia, probably two thousand years ago. We have weaker evidence, based on linguistic data, for earlier migrations from the Middle East into the Horn of Africa.

    I was simply asking a question that no one seems to want to answer. The oldest ancient DNA with that skin-lightening allele comes from a hunter/fisher/gatherer people in Sweden.

    Dr. Bill,

    There have been attempts to standardize classification of hair color. These attempts run into two problems: hair color varies along a continuum; and hair color changes with age (see Steggerda, M. (1941)Change in hair color with age,Journal of Heredity, 32, 402-404). In the future, it will probably be better to identify hair color by its underlying alleles. Unfortunately, we're still discovering new ones.

    Anon,

    We don't see a diversification of IQ scores in any human population that I know of. Please enlighten me if I'm wrong. The typical pattern is something like a bell curve, i.e., most people clump around the median with fewer people as one goes out to the left-hand or right-hand tail.

    The same goes for hirsuteness and most body characteristics.

    Keep in mind that with hair color we're looking at a large number of alleles for a single trait. This is not the usual pattern.

    I'm not arguing that sexual selection favors diversity for all visible traits. It seems to favor diversity for color traits, particularly brightly colored ones. Sexual selection also has to reach a high enough intensity for this kind of diversifying effect to take off.

    Anon,

    As I understand it, the different hair-color alleles produce different proportions of eumelanin (black-brown) and pheomelanin red-brown).

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Interesting hypothesis, but not very likely."

    I'm sure you're right.

    Some random thoughts:

    There is a male irish/scot phenotype with coarse black hair that goes silver early; before the ageing processes that are normally associated with greying in brown hair, wrinkles and such, almost as a late secondary sex charac.

    Supposing people with fine white hair had proliferated to the sort of population size of the Chinese.

    I have mixed colouring too. I have what I call horse hairs, really tough brown, not many. Underneath is fine white and the rest is a variation of shades of yellow and brown.

    MRC1 codes for triggering phenol…brown pigment, which we know is protective. All the other 11 alleles fail to trigger phenol… Is it possible that having lost the trigger, the other 11 alleles are attempts to recreate it?

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  • "If the selection had merely been for lighter hair, there would not have been a diversification of hair color. There would simply have been a replacement of black hair by blond hair."

    And if selection had merely been for higher intelligence, there would not have been a diversification of IQ scores? Or if selection had merely been for less body hair, there would not have been a diversification of hirsuteness?

    "Also, how would you explain the evolution of red hair?"

    Remember, I'm not really opposed to your general position; red hair may indeed be evidence for females under heavy selection to look different one to the next.

    On the other hand, genes for red hair are associated with extremely light skin, so it isn't clear that rufism is evidence for a preference for novelty and variety, either. Pale skin, like pale hair, is a neotenous trait. Men are attracted to women signalling youth and fertility signals, and paleness in both skin and hair signals youth. Yes, men do like variety, and I wouldn't be surprised to know that you were right about this being a major factor in the evolution of hair and eye color among European women. But neither the spread blondism or rufism provide clear evidence for this.

    Generally, I would say that men only like variety in traits that are unrelated to attractiveness; they can be quite merciless when it comes to a woman being too fat, too thin, too tall, too flat, too deep-voiced, and so on. When I look at Playboy models or miss America contestants, they don't seem like caricatures or political cartoons with exaggerated physical differences. Rather, they all look very similar variations on a theme. And as we have seen from other studies, it is often averageness rather than distinctness which is seen as desirable.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Pardon the intrusion (poorly informed lurker here), but in these studies that you reference, how do you decide what to call someone's hair colour?

    I have what is typically called medium brown hair (and grey-green eyes), but in fact, I have a whole bunch of different kinds/colours/shapes of individual hairs on my head and particularly in my beard (black, brown, red, blonde, straight, twisty, thick, thin, round, and flat). From even a short distance away, however, it does look brown.

    Are such variations taken into account in the labelling system?

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  • The original home of Nordic man is in the TROPICS:

    https://i.imgur.com/PGzhdgF.jpg

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  • I'm sorry, I meant to say, SLC24A5 is found in about 50% of ethiopians, 27% of maasai, and 45% of sinhalese.

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  • "A lot of people, like Greg Cochran, are arguing that light skin originated with Neolithic farmers and not with Mesolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers. Yet the oldest example of the derived allele for SLC24A5 comes from a Mesolithic site (Motala, Sweden). How does Greg explain this?"

    Peter, SLC24A5 is at about 50% in the maasai and 45% in the sinhalese. Two places with proven pre-historical contact with the middle east.

    According to your theory, european hunter-gatherers sailed all around africa skipping the bantu peoples and the san, to mix with the ancient african peoples in present ethiopia to make the present day mixed population. Could you believe such a thing?

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  • Anon,

    Europeans have at least 11 nonsynonymous alleles at the main hair-color gene, MC1R (as compared to the original state of 1 in sub-Saharan Africans). This new finding shows that the same proliferation occurred at other gene loci.

    You seem to be suggesting that each of these alleles reached fixation in different populations. Then, at some point, these different populations (more than 11 by my count) came together.

    Interesting hypothesis, but not very likely.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "If the selection had merely been for lighter hair, there would not have been a diversification of hair color."

    Two groups of people. One that looked like some people in Georgia or Tajikistan with black hair and pale skin, similar to the Celtic Fringe, migrated round the Atlantic and turned white like huskies. One group that migrated west from the Steppe, say they looked like alsatians, some variation, browns and tans. Then the two groups mixed.

    "how do you explain the evolution of red hair?"

    not be facetious but orangutans have red hair and there are pockets of human red haired people such as East Iran. The NE Atlantic Archipelago just happens to be the biggest pocket. So red 'looks' old; a spare allele that doesn't often get expressed. But I would bet that men will be growing red beards long after fair hair has disappeared.

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  • "Alleles for blonde hair lighten skin negligibly compared to alleles for red hair, so no reason for blonde hair to have been selected for skin lightening."

    …but there's little evidence that skin lightening from Mediterranean to northern European levels conveys any direct benefit at all so connecting hair color to it wouldn't actually explain anything anyway.

    "that would not explain how they were able to supplant the supposedly dark hair ones as typical European hair colour alleles,"

    Before we try to explain this we would need to have convincing evidence that dark hair was typical for northern Europeans. If anything it looks like the blondest Europeans like Swedes and Finns are the ones who have the least amounts of Kurgan invader ancestry and the least amount of early farmer ancestry, especially Finns who seem to be part really ancient East Asian ancestry and part old European ancestry with no Indo-European invader or Middle Eastern farmer ancestry.

    If you really want to identify some population as the original source of blonde hair, I would suggest the common pre-Indo-European and pre-Finno-Ugric substrate that seems to exist in both Germanic speakers (especially Swedes) and western Finnic speakers (especially Finns).

    BTW theories about Kurgan people are actually easy to put to the test since they're burial sites and there's DNA to test. The first Kurgan samples seem to have turned out the opposite of your expectations – those Kurgan people were swarthy Caucasoids with a bit of Mongoloid admixture, dark haired but commonly light eyed. But we'll have a lot more Kurgan samples soon so that will be settled.

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  • Anon,

    Merde ! The mistake has been corrected.

    Sean,

    A lot of people, like Greg Cochran, are arguing that light skin originated with Neolithic farmers and not with Mesolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers. Yet the oldest example of the derived allele for SLC24A5 comes from a Mesolithic site (Motala, Sweden). How does Greg explain this?

    Anon,

    If the selection had merely been for lighter hair, there would not have been a diversification of hair color. There would simply have been a replacement of black hair by blond hair. Yet there is no population where blond hair has become the dominant hair color, let alone the only one. Also, how would you explain the evolution of red hair?

    Anon,

    There has been no dating of the origin of non-black hair colors in Europe. I don't think we'll get any answers until we have more ancient DNA from the time frame of 20,000 BP to 10,000 BP. The Mesolithic individuals from Luxembourg and Spain are interesting but peripheral.

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  • "Europeans are a bunch of cry babies!"

    Not just Europeans! We're all of us hairless, with big eyes and foreheads, flat faces, underdeveloped brow ridges, and cute little teeth.

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  • Sean says:

    Assume the variegated alleles for blonde hair originated outside Europe, that would not explain how they were able to supplant the supposedly dark hair ones as typical European hair colour alleles, except by population replacement.

    Alleles for blonde hair lighten skin negligibly compared to alleles for red hair, so no reason for blonde hair to have been selected for skin lightening.

    Variegated alleles converging on a certain hair colour appearance show there must have been a selection pressure for that appearance: blonde hair.

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  • "And suppose there were another continuum from Bulgaria to Wales that went from Brown hair/yellow eyes to Red hair/green eyes. That would pretty much explain hair and eye colour distribution in Europe!"

    Except for the high rates of red hair in the Urals region. The most red-headed people in the world are also part-Mongoloid, eg. Google up some Udmurts:

    https://www.google.fi/search?q=udmurts

    The connection of a single non-polygenic trait like red hair to an ethnicity or region is likely to be meaningless unless it approaches fixation as frequencies of such a trait can jump between a few % and 10 % and 20 % through simple founder effects and drift in an isolated population. You're bound to found these anomalies in fringe populations and trying hard to explain something that doesn't really need an explanation is likely to just create confused theories.

    Light eyes are another thing as they seem to be driven to near fixation in some northern European populations which is too unlikely for founder effect or drift.

    Blonde hair is very noticeably different from red hair as it is obviously polygenic: hair colour has an obviously Gaussian distribution in northern Europeans (and possibly in everyone else – it's just that in everyone else it's only different shades of really dark hair). This is much less susceptible to large fluctuations with founder effects and drift and begs for some evolutionary explanation.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    What's the estimated date for this blond mutation in Europeans?

    The recent evidence from ancient DNA studies would seem to rule out anything much earlier than 7000BP, since all the Mesolithic and Neolithic individuals of which I've heard are judged to have been brunets.

    I seem to recall reading that there is some artistic evidence of a few stray blonds being present in Crete and even Egypt by the early Bronze Age. Queen Hatep Heres of the 4th Dynasty, who lived around 2500BC, is claimed by some to have been depicted as a strawberry blonde with fair skin – though its possible this coloring was symbolic of some religious meme rather than her actual pigmentation.

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  • Red hair is nowhere the most common colour. Everywhere, it is more common in women. Europe is the ground zero of hair colour.

    A scientific explanation would explain how and why the these hair colours conferred some fitness advantage in Europe. Merely suggesting they originated from an adjacent region explains nothing.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "a supernormal stimulus that signaled neoteny. "

    that's interesting because lactase retention is neotenous. Europeans are a bunch of cry babies!

    Sean – I have this idea that bears no relation to genetics but it works. It's based on observation and reduction, of course. Suppose there were a line of continuum from Ireland to the Baltic that went from Black hair/blue eyes to White hair/grey eyes. And suppose there were another continuum from Bulgaria to Wales that went from Brown hair/yellow eyes to Red hair/green eyes. That would pretty much explain hair and eye colour distribution in Europe!

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  • "Hair and eye color, however, had no preexistent sexual dimorphism. So sexual selection was driven simply by a desire for bright or novel colors."

    This does not follow. Pigmentation in women is probably lighter than in men to begin with because children are fairer than adults; fairness is a signal of youth. Blonde hair, like white skin, would therefore be a supernormal stimulus that signaled neoteny.

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  • Sean says:

    Uniquely dark skinned and light eyed indigenous population mixes with light skinned and dark eyed haired farmers, and the resultant people are conquered by Kurgans with blonde hair. Hence the people of southern Sweden are mainly descended from an invasion of a few thousand years ago that populated the rest of northern Europe.

    The above is more like butterfly collecting that an attempt to provide a scientific explanation for current European hair and eye colour traits that are mainly independent of each other and white skin. No one can come up with a credible alternative to the sexual selection explanation for the light eyes of north Europeans. So why all the doubts about variable light hair and white skin colour coming from the same place?

    Could someone explain how the people of the west coast of Ireland look so different to Swedes?

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  • Finally a reason for white folks to celebrate diversity /sarcasm>

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Moreover, in all three cases the selection pressure seems to have acted primarily on women and only secondarily on men—an indication of some form of sexual selection where women were the sex in short supply (Frost, 2014)

    Haven't you argued previously that sexual selection on women implies that men were the sex in short supply?

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  • The stereotype is not hard to summarize. When a blonde isn’t dumb, she’s lascivious. This is no laughing matter. In fact, a lot of people seem to believe it according to a British survey: Actually, blondes have not always had this reputation. A very different one emerges from a study of Victorian-era novels: In each...
  • Typo: Marylin Monroe, actress.

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  • Blonde behaviour follows the cultural message, which is: If I can't be blonde, then I want to have sex with them. If I can't have sex with blondes, then I want to kill them.

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  • I think it's simple: blonds are generally smarter and better looking than most everyone else, so the stereotype is based on envy, to bring them down.

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  • Gilbert Blythe tormenting Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) Male preference for female hair color seems to be frequency-dependent. The less common a hair color becomes, the more it is preferred. When male subjects are presented with a series of photos showing blondes and brunettes, preference for any one brunette is inversely proportional to the...
  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Yes, Judas was a redhead; and so was Jesus.
    Judas did not betray Jesus. See attached article 'Jesus' account of his last Passover' from http://www.the-divine-word.com

    To all redheads. please pass it on.

    Be proud of your heritage. Soon there will be a lot demanded of you.

    You are not Celts. Celts or Keltae are Proto-Europeans of Central Europe, nicknamed so by the Nordic Danaans. The nickname means 'horseshoe smiths' (may be derogatively). They were the first to shoe chariot horses and they are also the best construction engineers. (See references below or attached).

    Redheads are the pure descendants of Adam. ('Adam' is a Chaldean word meaning 'Redhead'. The Adamite (Ionian Greek) equivalent is 'Phoenix'). You are the last and superior race on the planet. This is why you will be called upon soon to handle very serious responsibilities.

    Read my 'Synoptic History of Mankind' and 'A Reappraisal of Thoth-Hermes' from my Site at http://www.the-divine-word.com for a fuller information and also to see how the Adamite race has been systematically persecuted, exterminated or thinned out, over millennia.

    The extermination of the Adamites has been the worse genocide on the planet.

    Unfortunately, in racial mixing the fairer race is the receding race. So, in appearance I am not a Redhead but I know my soul ancestry, as you will realize from my articles.

    Jesus Demetris Zeus

    http://www.the-divine-word.com

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  • The stereotype is not hard to summarize. When a blonde isn’t dumb, she’s lascivious. This is no laughing matter. In fact, a lot of people seem to believe it according to a British survey: Actually, blondes have not always had this reputation. A very different one emerges from a study of Victorian-era novels: In each...
  • You are too serious as you have the options to or not to read the joke………remember a joke is just a joke with no discriminitory intent

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  • Gilbert Blythe tormenting Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) Male preference for female hair color seems to be frequency-dependent. The less common a hair color becomes, the more it is preferred. When male subjects are presented with a series of photos showing blondes and brunettes, preference for any one brunette is inversely proportional to the...
  • You have published an awesome website.
    Feel free to visit my blog : couples counselling melbourne

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  • The ‘hot’ hair color this year (source). While there seems to be a general trend to prefer average physical characteristics, this doesn’t seem to apply to hair color. People seek colors that are uncommon or even unnatural. Europeans have departed from the species norm of black hair and brown eyes by evolving a wide range...
  • Female hair colour is "naturally more diverse"? Interesting. Which study/studies show that?

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  • It seems about every other woman: white, black, latina, has the same hair color as that model. Red hair has been popular for the last several years. It's probably time for blonde to make a comeback.

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  • Ben,

    1. There is a 3-way interaction between pain sensitivity, hair color, and sex. Red-haired women seem to respond more readily to painkillers. The following is from Mogil et al (2003):

    "our results revealed a significant influence of MC1R genotype on analgesia in women only. Pentazocine at the dose used
    produced modest analgesia in all men. By contrast, ‘‘classic’’
    light-skinned, redheaded women with two variant MC1R alleles
    displayed robust pentazocine analgesia against ischemic pain and
    were the only group to display convincing analgesia against
    thermal pain. Skin type appeared to be a better proxy for MC1R
    genotype than hair color, as these effects reached significance for
    ischemic pain when light- versus dark-skinned women were compared as described above, but did not quite do so for redheaded versus nonredheaded women"

    2. We don't know. There seems to be an urban legend that we have dates for the appearance of blue eyes and red hair, but no such dating has yet been done.

    Rosalind Harding came up with a mean estimate of 50,000 years (this may be the source for that Wikipedia entry) using a model that assumed no selection for or against red hair, i.e., relaxation of selection against red hair.

    One can hardly cite this estimate to disprove the sexual selection hypothesis, since the model assumes that no such selection happened.

    3. Red-hair alleles are recessive, but they have visible effects in the heterozygote state.

    In order to date the appearance of red hair and other 'new' hair colors, we will have to retrieve the MC1R gene from ancient skeletons to see which alleles were present. There are other dating methods, but direct examination would be the cleanest way.

    Sean,

    In the case of skin color, the desire for color novelty has to compete against a general preference for lighter female skin, which in turn reflects a need to create more stable, longer-lasting pair bonds where the male is less aggressive and more caring toward his mate.

    Under conditions of intense sexual selection, the second tendency will progressively overwhelm the first. Mean skin color will become steadily lighter in women and, by extension, in both sexes.

    You're confusing 'older' with 'sexually mature'. Symons argued that women become darker with successive pregnancies. Such women are older but they're not sexually more desirable.

    I think women tan for two main reasons: 1- it exploits the color novelty factor; and 2 – it triggers a more aggressive and perhaps more stimulating sexual response.

    There's also some evidence that women can become addicted to tanning (i.e., it stimulates the pleasure center in the brain, although this could be a conditioned reflex).

    At my high school, blonds were about 20 to 25% of the population. That is probably the threshold where a hair color starts to become common.

    Anon,

    There's a trivial explanation for those red-haired mummies. Hair has two pigments: eumelanin (dark) and pheomelanin (yellowish red). Eumelanin breaks down more rapidly than does pheomelanin, so hair will turn blond and then red over time.

    This is also why people turn blond in the summer.

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  • Artificial hair color seems an indication of 'alternative' or bolshie leanings rather than being hot.

    Bottle blonde hair is still very popular, blue contact lenses too. One aspect that may be worth taking into account is that in cities like London about half the young are non white. It is my impression that even those non white men who have brought up in the West still rate the light hair and eye colors of European women highly. And a high proportion of immigrants are young men from counties where light hair and eyes are rare. Women are increasingly open to considering non white men as potential partners, and they rate Black men are rated as more physically attractive than white.

    I think that blonde hair has a lot of mileage in it yet. In fact natural European eye and hair colours are destined to become ever more rare as the number of children born to two white parents falls. I don't see artificial hair colour as ever being regarded as 'hot'.

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  • "These reports from greek or latin writers give the feelings that redhairs were not rare in these times in barbarian tribes, maybe with a frequency higher than today, except in celtic isolates."

    I doubt it, outsiders tend to notice the most striking features of a group and than associate those features with the whole group.

    Take for instance the prevalaence of the east asian racial epithet ang mo.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ang_mo

    It essentially means 'red-haired monkey' and was used by Chinese, Malaysians and Singaporeans to refer to the dutch traders who began their trading adventures into the regions centuries ago. Now I find it highly unlikely that all the dutch traders were red-haired, but I have no doubt that some would have been and that would have been a very striking feature to separate them from the indigenous people in those regions.

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  • These reports from greek or latin writers give the feelings that redhairs were not rare in these times in barbarian tribes, maybe with a frequency higher than today, except in celtic isolates.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Estimates on the original occurrence of the currently active gene for red hair vary from 20,000 to 100,000 years ago…100 000 years, really?, it seems very old"

    I read somewhere – which i can't find – that red hair is a close mutation from black hair so maybe red hair marked step one in a transition to multiple hair colors?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_hair

    "Several accounts by Greek writers mention redheaded people. A fragment by the poet Xenophanes describes the Thracians as blue-eyed and red haired.[5] Herodotus described the Budini people as being predominantly red haired. Dio Cassius described Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, to be "tall and terrifying in appearance… a great mass of red hair… over her shoulders."

    The Roman historian Tacitus commented on the "red hair and large limbs of the inhabitants of Caledonia",[6] which he connected with some red haired Gaulish tribes of Germanic and Belgic relation.

    In Asia, red hair has been found among the ancient Tocharians…Caucasian Tarim mummies have been found with red hair dating to the 2nd millennium BC.[7]"

    There's also the Egyptians describing the Libyans as "red" etc.

    .
    "Part of the sexual selection might be for lighter body hair, with lighter head hair as a side effect."

    Very good point.

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  • Part of the sexual selection might be for lighter body hair, with lighter head hair as a side effect.

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  • Re 'Fall Hair Color Trends 2012', that sounds like fashion rather than the thing men are interested in.I’ve argued that these new colors were selected for … their newness and colorfulness.

    I'm confident that you are right about that. I doubt artificial hair colouring is working under the same selection pressure now. As you suggested a while ago-

    "In earlier generations, the preferred model of sexual behavior was one of stable, fecund, and long-term relationships. Other forms of erotic expression did exist and are attested in the literature, but at a lower level of prevalence than would be expected if allowed free and unfettered expression. They were discouraged by social custom because, in one way or another, they were less optimal in producing stable families.

    One of these alternate eroticisms was the practice of deliberately darkening women's skin. Rightly or wrongly, the preferred model of sexual behavior encouraged women to keep their skin as fair as possible. This "meme" has proven highly successful in most human societies, and, like so many other memes, has succeeded without its practitioners fully knowing why. During my fieldwork in a rural community of eastern Québec, I asked retired farmwomen why they took such great pains to keep their skin untanned. Many had no idea at all. One simply said: "It was important. My sisters were the same. I don't know the reason. They never told us" (Frost 2005: 60-61).

    Now girls tan their skin. And people object when they are young, ostensibly that is on health grounds, but when it is spray on tan it's still perceived as a bad thing. I think that is because people sense a tan is a 'adult' look. A tanned look definitely makes girls seem far older than their years somehow. And actual tanning has an effect on sexuality Owners of Ubertan tanning spray could face two years in prison (This is a tanning drug you inhale BTW) "Ubertan contains melanotan, a chemical that stimulates the production of melanin in skin cells making it darker. Reported side effects include nausea, migraines, dizziness, palpitations and enhanced libido" (Google search Ubertan aphrodisiac)

    So if the motivations for skin colour are diametrically different now, why expect the selection for hair colour to still operate in the same way – for rarity. "Blonde hair' is not rare at all, it's extremely common. The overwhelming majority of 'blonde' hair nowadays is artificial lightened. But women still much prefer the bottle blonde look to red or the more unusual colours like the unnatural ones you talk about.

    I think one reason standard blonde hair is popular among young women, despite being more than a little common, is it works as one part of an image; it works as an advertising signal, a bit like revealing clothes. to signal being open to the more modern kind of relationship. I think the modern idea of "hot" is tied up with the perception of signaling being available in a way females were not before modern times.

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  • Allright, i'll copy here my questions from the previous post:

    1) what is this special sensitivity to anaesthetic (mentioned in the previous post)?

    2) When did these alleles 'popped up'in the european populations?
    Wikipedia states:
    "Estimates on the original occurrence of the currently active gene for red hair vary from 20,000 to 100,000 years ago"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_hair
    100 000 years, really?, it seems very old…

    3) Wikipedia states that the redhairs alleles are recessives. Is there any selective advantages for heterozygotes (such as for sickle cell disease) ?

    Also, there is no proof that these alleles were either rare or common during the prehistoric ages (and how can you infer the frequencies?). There might have been several burst in frequencies, followed by declines with differences among different social casts. During the middle ages, women from the nobility must have been in very large excess, many were put in monastery, and sexual selection might have been more intense in the nobility than in the peasanry. What do you make of that?

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  • Gilbert Blythe tormenting Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) Male preference for female hair color seems to be frequency-dependent. The less common a hair color becomes, the more it is preferred. When male subjects are presented with a series of photos showing blondes and brunettes, preference for any one brunette is inversely proportional to the...
  • I wonder if Celts' red hair has been selected for white skin, and was related to your suggestion that "women evolved a lighter complexion and other paedomorphic features as a way to inhibit male aggression and stimulate feelings of care."

    If red hair goes with white skin, and white skin discourages male on female violence, as you suggest, perhaps the Celtic areas of Europe are home to populations where the women were more in need of protection from male violence. In other words red hair is selected for in women, partially so that their men would be reluctant to assault them. Alternatively, stimulating provisioning and care giving could be important.

    Into modern times men of a certain British Isles ethnic background have had a reputation for beating their wives and abandoning their families. Perhaps in the the west of Europe womens' need to attract a mate was affected by a need for protection from male violence and/or continuing provisioning.

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  • couple of questions:

    1) what is this special sensitivity to anaesthetic?

    2) When did these alleles 'popped up'in the european populations?
    Wikipedia states:
    "Estimates on the original occurrence of the currently active gene for red hair vary from 20,000 to 100,000 years ago"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_hair
    That seems too old.

    3) Are these alleles different from the sometimes reddish hairs of africans?

    4) Wikipedia states that the redhairs alleles are recessives. Is there any selective advantages for heterozygotes (such as for sickle cell disease) ?

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  • S. Thompson,

    The difference in skin tone between Celts and non-Celts is probably due to the presence of redhead alleles, which affect not only hair color but also skin color.

    I agree that present-day Celts have fallen into line with the anti-redhead prejudice of other Europeans. But Curry's study suggests that red hair used to be viewed positively in Celtic cultures.

    It's anyone's guess as to why Celts were different from other Europeans in this respect. Since Scotland and Ireland lay outside the Roman empire, it may be that anti-redhead prejudice was a Roman culture trait.

    Was sexual selection more intense among ancestral Celts during the last ice age? Keep in mind that back then the Celts had not yet differentiated from other Europeans. The early Europeans of that time probably spoke a proto-Uralic language.

    In terms of my theoretical model, sexual selection should have been most intense where mean hunting distance was longest. This would probably correspond to the open plains of eastern Europe.

    On the other hand, human population densities were higher in Western Europe (because of the moderating influence of the Atlantic). So there would have been a higher probability of new hair and eye colors arising in that region.

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  • Mr Frost,

    I have read your other posts about the evolution of skin colour in the Caucasian race and I fight them quite interesting. I would like to ask a question about variation within this race. Why are those in the British isles (esp. in Celtic parts)seem paler than Germanic and Slavic people. The latter two usually remain quite sallow during the Winter whereas those of native Scottish and Irish origin can tan only temporarily at best. I don't think sunlight is that much more pronounced in these parts and women in Ireland and UK and women in these areas find men with red hair unattractive to the same extent that those in other parts of the world do.

    Is is possible that male mortality was so high (combined with monogamy) that sexual selection for female variation increased the frequency of the relevant genes to a much higher degree than other parts of Europe. If so, is there evidence throughout history of this very high male mortaility among Celtic populations?

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Hair color is normally a minor factor when men select mates."

    This is mostly true among men from populations where blonde hair is common but among men from places where it doesn't exist blonde hair can easily be the deciding factor – which ties into your point about its potential selection value when it first arose.

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  • "Why did their empire collapse? Hmmm…"

    Go on, tell. At least I don't know.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Peter,

    It is hard to have a discussion about redheads and attractiveness because the experiences of men and women differ so drastically.

    Men get the shaft while, say, Botticelli's Venus is a redheaded woman.

    And that's before even broaching the subject on how they differ on a physiological and psychological basis.

    Redheads were spread across from northern Africa and even into China as evidenced by mummies from the ancient world.
    Why did their empire collapse? Hmmm…

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  • Because of the other effects associated with red hair, red heads are more likely to be less attractive because of their hair color, unlike blondes or brunettes where hair color is less related to their other features.

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  • Sean and others,

    The cultural environment changes over time. I remember when blonde jokes first came to Quebec in the late 1980s. At first, no one understood them because blondes were not stigmatized in the local culture.

    There has always been anti-redhead prejudice, but I suspect it has grown stronger in recent years, especially in places like Scotland. This is partly because Scotland is assimilating into a broader, more global culture and partly because hostility to pale skin (which goes with red hair) is becoming more overt.

    In movies of the past, the 'bad guy' was usually represented as being swarthy (or green in the case of science fiction). There is now a trend to depict bad guys as very white-skinned, even to the point where the 'evil albino' has become a popular motif. Ginger jokes and blonde jokes are likewise part of this increasingly ugly side of modern culture.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    During the border wars between Scotland and England, red hair became associated with the scotish invader and on the englishside of the border parents would commit infanticide on children born with red hair. Common mythology in England portray red headed people as being bad temperred and to a degree violent, probably as a leftover of these border wars. John
    PS I am a red headed male originating from the border between england and scotland

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    It is hard to get honest answers about what men like in women vis a vis hair color. I believe this is because while people really do vary in what they like and it is frequency dependent to a degree, rare colors are just that, rare.

    This means that the vast majority of men are settling in that area and may not want to admit that or, more probably, they came to love it because they love their wives.

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  • Playboy made a 3 volume book set devoted each to blondes, redheads, and brunettes in 2005.
    You can also buy them individually and here are their sales rankings:

    Redheads: #98,108
    Blondes: #1,343,529
    Brunettes: #3,351,542

    I found this about a year ago and it's always in that order.

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  • Female sex symbols with naturally reddish hair have tended to bleach it.

    Name a single truly red haired (not strawberry blond) Hollywood leading man). There weren't any. Sean Connery was very dark haired and eyed. Does anyone think he could have made it with red hair, and the pale skin that goes with it.

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  • This is probably way off base, but (as a redhead) I've noticed that we tend to have somewhat atavistic facial features.

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  • cont..

    And most significantly, from the Irish Times

    4)
    “Reports of this story have been splashed across world media outlets and put the focus on the redhead ban. But the Danish facility, which is part of an international network of sperm banks, is imposing wider restrictions: they are not taking in any Scandinavians, whether blond, dark-blond red-haired or of any other hair colour, Cryos founder and director Mr Ole Schou told The Irish Times.

    “We have too many. We have nearly 500 donors free of quarantine – the world’s largest selection,” he says. “And we have 600 donors on the waiting list. First time in history.”

    However it’s the ginger hair that is grabbing the headlines, and the trait is still sought in some areas, according to Schou. “Ireland is among those countries that have the highest demand for red-haired donors – number three on the list behind Denmark and Germany,” he says, noting that the Danish Cryos facility has long supplied Ireland with sperm.

    “The problem is that we have too many donors on stock with red hair. If the demand [increases] more than supply, we will take in red-haired again.”

    So what kinds of physical traits do prospective parents generally look for in a sperm donor? People seek something similar to themselves, according to Schou, who describes how heterosexual couples look for similarities with the male partner, single parents tend to want sperm donors that look like themselves or “their dream prince” and lesbian couples generally look for a donor that resembles one of the partners.

    Graham Coull, lab manager at the Sims clinic in Dublin agrees that for heterosexual couples, sperm donors tend to be matched to the male’s characteristics. He is not surprised by the redhead ban, noting that while Ireland may be one of the top-demanding countries for red-haired donors, in absolute terms the levels of requests here are still fairly low.

    “If it’s a heterosexual couple, we match mainly to the male characteristics, and the only time we would be really matching red hair is if the male [partner] has red hair,” says Coull.

    “And it’s rare that we would get single women or same-sex partners requesting red hair.” The clinic orders donated sperm through Cryos for use in various fertility procedures, including intra-uterine insemination and in vitro fertilisation.

    Patients fill out a sheet detailing preferred characteristics, and Coull finds an appropriate sperm donor. “When it is a heterosexual couple, the most common characteristics in Ireland that we are asked to match are dark hair and blue eyes,” he says.”

    from http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2011/0920/1224304403132.html

    So what do we take from this?

    1) People in different countries are more likely to want sperm donors who resemble them.

    2) The increased demand for dark hair-dark eyes combo is because most of their clientele is from countries where dark hair-dark eyes combo is the norm, that is the Mediterranean.

    3) They are not taking ‘in any Scandinavians, whether blond, dark-blond, red-haired or of any other hair colour’.

    which leads to 4.

    4) The media will grab at any opportunity to kick down the one group that it is politically correct to do so.

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  • Also in regards to redheaded sperm being denied from the Cryo sperm bank, most of the media reports were disingenuous.

    1)
    “Mr Schou said the only reliable demand for sperm from redheaded donors from Ireland, where he said it sold “like hot cakes””

    “He said sperm from donors with brown hair and brown eyes was particularly in demand, because of the bank’s large customer base in Spain, Italy and Greece.”

    from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/denmark/8768598/Sperm-bank-turns-down-redheads.html

    2)
    “The only reliable demand for sperm from redheaded donors is in Ireland.”

    “Mr Schou said the most in-demand sperm was from donors with brown hair and brown eyes because of the demand from Mediterranean countries. ”

    from http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/8303802/biggest-sperm-bank-refusing-rangas

    3)
    “Customers that do request redheaded donors are mostly based in Denmark, Germany and Ireland, Schou told the Irish Times.”

    “Given that many of Cryos’ clients are in Spain, Italy and Greece, the company needs more brown-eyed Scandinavians, Mediterraneans and men of other ethnicities as donors, he said.”

    From http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/cryos-sperm-bank-redhead-gingers-reject

    cont..

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  • Couldn't it also have something to do with how people perceive the colour red?

    The colour is associated with anger, lust, love, passion and war.

    i.e.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-attraction-doctor/201110/how-get-man-or-woman-attracted-color

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-social-thinker/201008/seeing-red-does-wearing-red-make-you-sexy

    Naturally then, couldn't this also have an effect on people's perception of red hair?

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  • "Hair color is normally a minor factor when men select mates."

    Is there any evidence that genes seek out other genes similar to themselves? Some studies suggest that a strong "genetic alliance" can produce better offspring. A blonde woman mating with a dark-haired man, for example, may produce less successful offspring due to a genetic mismatch, compared to a couple having the same (or similar) hair color.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Apparently redhead sperm is more in demand in Ireland than outside of it, where there is not much demand for it. This could be due to a more positive view of it or preference for it in a Celtic culture like Ireland, or due to there being more redheads there and thus more redheaded parents looking for redheaded kids.

    "Sperm bank can’t find takers for red-haired genes"

    http://www.thestar.com/living/article/1056533–sperm-bank-can-t-find-takers-for-red-haired-genes

    "Ole Schou, director of Denmark-based international sperm bank Cryos, hit a nerve when he tried to explain why they weren’t taking donations from red-haired males any longer.

    “Our stock is about to explode,” he told the Star. “We have nothing against red-haired donors. We have just too many in stock in relation to the demand.”

    With more than 70 litres of sperm cooling their heels, “we are drowning in semen,” he said. A further 600 donors are on the waiting list.

    The demand is for brown-eyed or Mediterranean donors, and non-Scandinavian types, not an easy find in Denmark, Vikings notwithstanding.

    It’s a different story in Ireland, where redheads’ sperm goes “like hotcakes.”"

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Muhammad is said to have had red hair. Which is why you'll see some Muslim men dye their beards red.

    Although "redhead" in our context which tends to signify a bright, fiery red color, is not necessarily the same as it's used in other cultures.

    In other cultures, "red" hair can signify auburn, chestnut, brown, etc. as opposed to dark-brown and black.

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  • Red hair is not favoured even in Scotland, where I live.

    This might be a more contemporary thing. I've noticed joking about redheads in pop culture on shows like South Park that have lots of influence on the youth become more prominent recently.

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  • "The last point is interesting because the frequency of red hair is much higher in the Celtic regions of Europe (Wikipedia). Has this prevalence been maintained at a higher level by a more “redhead-friendly” environment?"

    Red hair is not favoured even in Scotland, where I live. I would not be surprised to find redheads have become somewhat scarcer since the Ice Age.

    IMO red hair originated in a population that now makes up part of those inhabiting the Western fringe of Europe, that's why it's common there today. Blond{e)s came from further east than redheads I think.

    Redheads have pale skin which is not an advantage in securing a mate going what you've said about tanning. Glasgow has nearly as many tanning salons as London, more per head than anywhere else in the UK. Here

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  • The stereotype is not hard to summarize. When a blonde isn’t dumb, she’s lascivious. This is no laughing matter. In fact, a lot of people seem to believe it according to a British survey: Actually, blondes have not always had this reputation. A very different one emerges from a study of Victorian-era novels: In each...
  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    No need to go into details — and write the whole Thesis on it –

    Every one knows Why Jews Spread those Blonde Jokes — Jews who unsuccessfully try to Control the Media + Government + Resources
    They think in their Super Extreme Arrogance that they are the only Intelligent people on Earth and all other people are not Intelligent and should be SLAVES to Jews and Jewish Manager

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  • Averaged face of blue-eyed male subjects (left). Averaged face of brown-eyed male subjects (right). Czech population. (Kleisner et al., 2010) If sexual selection of women diversified the eye color of early Europeans, the new colors should tend to be sex-linked, since the selection targeted women more than men. There is now evidence that blue eyes...
  • Peter Frost: Regarding population substructure in the Czech Republic, you contend that even if such groups existed in the past, they would have long ago melted into the general population. As you very well know, humans do not mate randomly. Assortative mating tends to maintain clusters notwithstanding extensive overlap. Extrapolation that given increasing overlap the clusters will disappear may not pan out—the overlap may stabilize or reverse; such is the power of assortative mating.

    20th century anthropological texts describe different physical types in the Czech Republic and neighborhood. Aside from the Dinarics, you will find mention of the Norics, a group that represents a transition between the Dinarics and more northern people that started living in the Czech Republic, and then the northern types themselves. These labels have not been standardized and anthropology has generally shifted away from describing such clusters and overlap with more rigor, but indications are that the blending of some populations of different geographic origins that settled in the Czech Republic has not been complete.

    I do not see the point of the question of the lip thickness of infants vs. adults. I did not say that lips are thicker in infants than adults.

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  • Tod says:

    Look at the averaged face of brown-eyed male subjects, notice anything about the lips ? By my way of thinking the expression is a half smile. The blue eyed face has no trace of a similar expression.

    Second to fourth digit ratio and face shape. Look at figure 2.

    Notice anything about lips on the male low 2D:4D face?

    The expression is a wolfish smirk, a considerable contrast to the high digit ratio face.

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  • Erik,

    Ah, finally I understand. You believe that population substructure exists among ethnic Czechs, i.e., Czechs can be subdivided into different endogamous groups.

    There are few if any geographic or social barriers in the Czech Republic to maintain such groups. Even if such groups existed in the past, they would have long ago melted into the general population.

    You didn't answer my previous question. Are you arguing that lips are thicker in infants than in adults?

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  • Peter Frost: You have brought up robusticity and masculinization in the same vein in relation to blue eyes. The masculinization part is easy to address as it is clear that one composite is not a more masculine version of the other (e.g., features a and d more masculine in one, features c and f more masculine in the other).

    Yes, reduced masculinization is not the same as feminization, but in the comparisons I mentioned, I referenced mostly linear measurements, which vary along a single dimension: they can increase or decrease. Thus, feminization will shift these linear measurements in the same direction as reduced masculinization. So if I substitute feminization with “reduced masculinization,” the argument remains that the eye colors are not associated with greater or lesser masculinization.

    Now, robusticity that is not related to masculinization is a different matter. If there is a direct relationship between blue eyes and facial robusticity, this is a strange relationship since the blue-eyed composite has a face that is overall less robust but has some parts that are more robust, such as the upper nasal region that joins the forehead. And then there are differences that are not plausibly related to robusticity, such as the nasal columella (fleshy divider that separates the nostrils).

    The more plausible explanation is that the relationship is indirect, involving different eye color frequencies in ethnic groups that differ in face shape, but then why was the find not observed in women? The scenario I gave you, a hypothetical one that does not invoke random sampling issues, is that given reasonable assumptions about differences in IQ distributions between men, women and different ethnic groups, one could easily end up with the male and female samples having different ethnic compositions, which could also result from cultural differences involving more or less males from one group going to college.

    You did bring in ethnic groups by mentioning jews and roma, which the brown-eyed composite does not look like. The roma are an educationally backward minority that are unlikely to be present in sufficient numbers in a top university. There are very few jews in the Czech Republic. Even if one assumes that they enjoy a 0.5 SD IQ advantage compared to the Europeans that they live among, as in the U.S., you would not expect enough of them among the participants to significantly affect the results. I do not suppose that Charles University is a leading study destination for international jewish students, but even if it were, why would the authors recruit international students?

    If you want to look up ethnic groups, browse the old anthropological literature to read about a group in the region described as the Dinaric type: eyes set relatively close and open more widely, brown eyes and dark hair most frequent, large nose that is narrow on top and convex in profile, long face with a prominent chin, etc…. something approaching the brown-eyed composite.

    P.S.: I hope you remove the spam above. Leaving such comments encourages spammers.

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  • Peter Frost: You have brought up robusticity and masculinization in the same vein in relation to blue eyes. The masculinization part is easy to address as it is clear that one composite is not a more masculine version of the other (e.g., features a and d more masculine in one, features c and f more masculine in the other).

    Yes, reduced masculinization is not the same as feminization, but in the comparisons I mentioned, I referenced mostly linear measurements, which vary along a single dimension: they can increase or decrease. Thus, feminization will shift these linear measurements in the same direction as reduced masculinization. So if I substitute feminization with “reduced masculinization,” the argument remains that the eye colors are not associated with greater or lesser masculinization.

    Now, robusticity that is not related to masculinization is a different matter. If there is a direct relationship between blue eyes and facial robusticity, this is a strange relationship since the blue-eyed composite has a face that is overall less robust but has some parts that are more robust, such as the upper nasal region that joins the forehead. And then there are differences that are not plausibly related to robusticity, such as the nasal columella (fleshy divider that separates the nostrils).

    The more plausible explanation is that the relationship is indirect, involving different eye color frequencies in ethnic groups that differ in face shape, but then why was the find not observed in women? The scenario I gave you, a hypothetical one that does not invoke random sampling issues, is that given reasonable assumptions about differences in IQ distributions between men, women and different ethnic groups, one could easily end up with the male and female samples having different ethnic compositions, which could also result from cultural differences involving more or less males from one group going to college.

    You did bring in ethnic groups by mentioning jews and roma, which the brown-eyed composite does not look like. The roma are an educationally backward minority that are unlikely to be present in sufficient numbers in a top university. There are very few jews in the Czech Republic. Even if one assumes that they enjoy a 0.5 SD IQ advantage compared to the Europeans that they live among, as in the U.S., you would not expect enough of them among the participants to significantly affect the results. I do not suppose that Charles University is a leading study destination for international jewish students, but even if it were, why would the authors recruit international students?

    If you want to look up ethnic groups, browse the old anthropological literature to read about a group in the region described as the Dinaric type: eyes set relatively close and open more widely, brown eyes and dark hair most frequent, large nose that is narrow on top and convex in profile, long face with a prominent chin, etc…. something approaching the brown-eyed composite.

    P.S.: I hope you remove the spam above (discount viagra). Leaving such comments encourages spammers.

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  • Peter Frost: You have brought up robusticity and masculinization in the same vein in relation to blue eyes. The masculinization part is easy to address as it is clear that one composite is not a more masculine version of the other (e.g., features a and d more masculine in one, features c and f more masculine in the other).

    Yes, reduced masculinization is not the same as feminization, but in the comparisons I mentioned, I referenced mostly linear measurements, which vary along a single dimension: they can increase or decrease. Thus, feminization will shift these linear measurements in the same direction as reduced masculinization. So if I substitute feminization with “reduced masculinization,” the argument remains that the eye colors are not associated with greater or lesser masculinization.

    Now, robusticity that is not related to masculinization is a different matter. If there is a direct relationship between blue eyes and facial robusticity, this is a strange relationship since the blue-eyed composite has a face that is overall less robust but has some parts that are more robust, such as the upper nasal region that joins the forehead. And then there are differences that are not plausibly related to robusticity, such as the nasal columella (fleshy divider that separates the nostrils).

    The more plausible explanation is that the relationship is indirect, involving different eye color frequencies in ethnic groups that differ in face shape, but then why was the find not observed in women? The scenario I gave you, a hypothetical one that does not invoke random sampling issues, is that given reasonable assumptions about differences in IQ distributions between men, women and different ethnic groups, one could easily end up with the male and female samples having different ethnic compositions, which could also result from cultural differences involving more or less males from one group going to college.

    You did bring in ethnic groups by mentioning jews and roma, which the brown-eyed composite does not look like. The roma are an educationally backward minority that are unlikely to be present in sufficient numbers in a top university. There are very few jews in the Czech Republic. Even if one assumes that they enjoy a 0.5 SD IQ advantage compared to the Europeans that they live among, as in the U.S., you would not expect enough of them among the participants to significantly affect the results. I do not suppose that Charles University is a leading study destination for international jewish students, but even if it were, why would the authors recruit international students?

    If you want to look up ethnic groups, browse the old anthropological literature to read about a group in the region described as the Dinaric type: eyes set relatively close and open more widely, brown eyes and dark hair most frequent, large nose that is narrow on top and convex in profile, long face with a prominent chin, etc…. something approaching the brown-eyed composite.

    P.S.: I hope you remove the spam above (discount viagra). Leaving such comments encourages spammers.

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  • To the person commenting on cranial robusticity as “anonymous”: Please use another alias as it is difficult to follow exchanges with this one.

    Yes, the study takes into account numerous facial landmarks but for the purpose of measuring overall craniofacial size (minus lower jaw) and overall shape (not of the discrete features that constituted the assessment of robusticity). Your pyramid analogy refers to the need to separate shape from size, but the authors controlled for overall size when they addressed the discrete features that comprise their assessment of robusticity, which does not capture facial robusticity.

    Initially I skimmed the abstract of the study on cranial robusticity, and now after looking at it more carefully, it still turns out that the study was about cranial robusticity, not facial robusticity. Masticatory landmarks do not mean that the face has been significantly accounted for as some of the muscle attachments are cranial. The only parts of the face that were taken into account for assessing robusticity were a region of muscle attachment on the cheekbones and a part of the orbit (not relevant to visual assessment in a live human), and this was assessed to investigate whether cranial robusticity has something to do with mastication. There is no way to interpret this study in terms of robusticity of the face.

    And just consider some of the populations sampled. Some of the populations sampled from Germany and the Czech Republic population were over 10,000 years old (could be up to 40,000 years old), and a sub-group of American Indians and the Belgian sample are presumably a few thousand years old, too. The northernmost parts of Europe sampled comprised of collections from central Germany, central Belgium and southern Poland.

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  • Erik,

    There might be a slight misunderstandng between the two of us. There are two possible hypotheses:

    1. The association between blue eyes and reduced robustness is direct. The same allele that favors bue eyes also interferes with the masculinization of the face during development. Since female faces follow a different trajectory, they would be largely unaffected.

    2. The associaton between eye color and face shape is simply an artefact of ethnic mixture, i.e., some of the blue-eyed males are partly of German origin or some of the brown-eyed males are partly of Jewish or Roma origin. These ethnic outliers would be absent from the female participants.

    I still see the first hypothesis as more plausible. Reduced masculinization of face shape does not necessarily mean feminization. (Do infants have thicker lips than adults in both sexes?)

    It may be that some of the participants were of partly Jewish or partly German origin. But why would such individuals be preponderantly male. I have trouble following your reasoning.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Holland:

    However, the cranium is different from the face, and no rule says that robusticity must be concordant across different parts of the skeleton.

    The paper in question deals with cranial, facial and masticatory landmarks – http://tinyurl.com/63yju9a.

    There seems to no finding of a component indicating Europeans are particularly specially less robust on the facial or masticatory landmarks in a way removed from their general craniofacial robustness, however you may read it yourself and come to your own conclusions.

    I have no doubt that Europeans have finer features than other people insofar as they are relatively narrow faced and have relatively pinched vertexes to their facial features. However, this is (at least in theory) different to robustness to some degree – a non-robust feature can come to a blunt vertex, while a robust feature can taper to a narrow vertex. To use an analogy, a larger and more robust "pyramid" can have a finer point than a smaller and less robust "hill".

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  • Peter Frost: The differences chart I listed above already mentions some of the features of the blue-eyed composite that are not only inconsistent with reduced masculinization but consistent with increased masculinization. Look at the column labeled “expected direction”; it lists how the brown-eyed composite must differ from the blue-eyed one to be more masculine with respect to the shape considered. Obviously, the blue-eyed composite has a more masculine shape on some counts and less masculine on others, which means that the differences between them are not one of masculinization but something else, which is clearly ethnicity in part.

    Regarding a null finding in the female subjects, random variability is not the only sampling issue. Use your imagination.

    Let us make some assumptions. Assume that the population with finer facial features comprises of half the general population and has an IQ advantage of 0.3 SD; that the male IQ advantage is 0.3 SD; Charles University, which is the top university of the Czech Republic, has an IQ advantage of 1 SD (the male student IQ is +0.83 SD compared to the male population, the female student IQ is + 1.17 SD compared to the female population); that the male IQ variance is 1.06 SD-squared; and that the female IQ variance is 0.87 SD-squared. These are reasonable assumptions, well within the published literature of other populations. From these figures we can calculate that roughly 64% of the male students and 75% of the female students will be from the population with finer facial features. Assuming that the prevalence of brown eyes is 40% in the population with finer facial features and 60% in the others, in a random sample of brown-eyed students from the university, close to half the males will comprise of individuals from the population with finer facial features, whereas two thirds of the females will comprise of individuals from the population with finer facial features. So what would you see in the female results? This is mere speculation, but you get the idea that you do not have to limit yourself to random variability.

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  • Erik,

    Can you elaborate please? Which facial features on the left are inconsistent with reduced masculinization?

    The sample sizes are fairly large: 40 males and 40 females. No, I don't see how random variability could explain the absence of this effect in the female subjects. You're being a bit too dismissive on this point …

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  • This makes me wonder if gayness in males correlates with eye/hair/skin pigmentation!

    Yea pretty much…

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  • Peter Frost: I left the following comment earlier. For some reason it never posted… trying one more time or I will just post it at my own site. This time I will leave out the links just in case they are the reason for the comment not showing up.

    This study shows no support for an association between eye color and masculinization of the face or of blue eyes somehow interfering with masculinization of the face.

    To start with, the image presented on top shows the differences exaggerated three-fold, for clarity. Second, the crucial data are in the deformation of the thin plate splines. We can contrast what is known about how masculinization and feminization affect face shape with how the brown-eyed composite differs from the blue-eyed one (brown vs. blue difference) and what is the expected direction if the brown-eyed composite is a more masculine version of the blue-eyed composite (expected direction).

    feature | brown vs. blue difference | expected direction

    lip width | wider | wider

    lip thickness | thicker | thinner

    philtrum length | shorter | longer

    chin width | wider | wider

    chin rounding | rounder | more angular

    eye width | wider | narrower

    distance between inner eyes | narrower | narrower

    distance between outer eye and zygomatic arches | narrower | wider

    superior medial orbital margin | displaced superiorly | displaced inferiorly

    The list above is not exhaustive, but it is clear that the brown-eyed composite is not a more masculine version of the blue-eyed composite because the correlation structure underlying the shape differences does not coincide with the masculine-feminine discriminant.

    So what accounts for the difference? Sampling involving different ethnicities and/or other sampling issues. Why was a similar result not seen in females? Sampling issues. Just by looking at differences such as thicker nasal bones in the nasion region and a shrunk columella (fleshy divider of the nostrils) in the blue-eyed composite, you know that the study was confounded by sampling from different ethnicities.

    On a different note…

    The blue-eyed composite disproportionately comprises of samples from a population with finer facial features (not more feminine, as the comparison above shows). One commentator had an issue with the comment on finer facial features being more frequent in northern populations, and he or she cited data on cranial robusticity. However, the cranium is different from the face, and no rule says that robusticity must be concordant across different parts of the skeleton.

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  • Sorry, I meant an excess of women to men…we know that.

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  • Peter, thanks for your answer.

    "I have trouble following your reasoning"

    Well, your theory needs an excess of men to women to work, which is well explained by the harsh conditions in postglacial europe.
    But then the men are attracted and choose women with pedomorphic features, but who therefore will give them kids with pedomorphic features, that is, less robust, more delicate. If nothing else, the boys with delicate features are now at a disadvantage in the harsh environment.
    That's why I say you need something else in your theory to counterbalance for this decrease in fitness.
    Think about it. I am not the only one who will se a problem here.

    "…Most people don't mate for the purpose of providing their offspring with certain heritable characteristics. This is true even nowadays, when people are (or should be) aware of genetics…"

    I am not sure of that. Is this a proven fact?. I don't even think that people are more aware of genetic 'today' than they were in the past. Modern tabloids and your own theory suggest quite the opposite. Anyway, inheritance of characteristics must have been an obvious fact even for a neolithic man and I would say that the harshest the environment, the more aware of genetic inheritance the hunter must have been.

    'People experience sexual attraction for reasons that are largely unconscious'
    That I agree. The unconscious reason might be that people find attractive the characteristics they want to see in their offspring, and these characteristics might not even be their own.

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  • This makes me wonder if gayness in males correlates with eye/hair/skin pigmentation! Especially given that study that in general people can tell by someone's face if he's gay.

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  • Tod,

    Yes, this is a significant finding. The more I think about the ethnic substructure explanation, the less plausible it seems. But, like any finding, this result needs to be replicated in another population.

    Jeffery,

    Skeletal remains are limited from northern Asia at that time depth. They are described in the literature as "archaic Mongoloids." I imagine the soft-tissue traits would put them somewhere between an Amerindian and an Ainu.

    I suspect that early Europeans looked pretty much like Ainu 25,000 years ago. The changes to skin, hair, and eye color were later developments.

    Ben10,

    I have trouble following your reasoning. Most people don't mate for the purpose of providing their offspring with certain heritable characteristics. This is true even nowadays, when people are (or should be) aware of genetics.

    People experience sexual attraction for reasons that are largely unconscious. Do you stop to think why a particular woman appeals to you physically?

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  • …so, selection for neoteny in a rough environment doesn't make much sense, unless of course there are other advantages associated with neotenic characters. It can't be brute testosterone-loaded physical force, by definition, but it could be intellectual. Ice age hunters with blue eyes could have been smarter, or it could have been a developmental advantage: at the age where the brown eyed hunters started to suffer a decline in testosterone, which marked the beginning of the end for them, blue eyed hunters would enjoyed a relatively steadyer supply of testosterone and would have a longer active life, and a longer life as well, such as at the end, all the oldest active hunters would be blue-eyed.
    Smart versus longevity or both ? Latin writters insisted very much that among the early german tribes, courage was the most appreciated quality in a man, not longevity. But courage and relative stupidity does more harm than good, so for this virtue to develop, being smart is a pre-requisite.

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  • Peter, I agree globally with your sexual selection mechanism, however, why would a robust hunter from the end of the last ice age, select for pretty pedomorphic (or neotenic) but fragile characters in its offsprings, if conditions are so rough as you describe. If toughness is what's needed to survive, the male hunter 'should' choose women that will give him tough boys, not pretty boys.
    And at the end of the ice age, ~12000 years ago, conditions were certainly rough. That is, IF these genes are really that old.

    But if these genes are not so old, in the range 6000-3000 years old, then living conditions in terms of food shortage, might have inmproved at this time, and the excess of women to men that your hypothesis needs to work might have been just a result of wars or male dominance. A dominant male with sixty brides in his harem and 59 males left outside of it just produces the same result. And since survival conditions were not so tough anymore, maybe here the dominant male could have choosen to engender pretty neotenic boys instead of tough roughnecks.

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  • Conversely, northern Asia appears to have suffered episodes of complete depopulation, particularly at the height of the last ice age.

    The height of the last ice age was around 20,000 years or so ago.

    I had heard that Mongoloids evolved in northern Asia. Did they not exist ~20,000 years ago? If not, who moved into northern Asia after the height of the last ice age to evolve into Mongoloids? Or had Mongoloids already evolved somewhere else and then moved into northern Asia after the height of the last ice age?

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  • "This sex difference suggests that blue eyes somehow interfere with the masculinization of facial features"

    Wow !

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  • Anon,

    I see your point. Is there another pair of terms I should be using? I suppose I could use "pedomorphic" for one face. But what term would describe the other?

    Nano,

    The problem with the ethnic substructure explanation is that the difference in facial structure existed only among the male subjects, i.e, the blue-eyed women and the brown-eyed women had the same facial structure. This sex difference suggests that blue eyes somehow interfere with the masculinization of facial features.

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  • First thought seeing the pic: I know these guys! I went to school with both of them. One was Pole, another Ashkenazi Jew. Seriously, the resemblance is remarkable. So yeah, I think these two faces simply represent different populations.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Addendum: When I have read in the past that Northern Europeans are more gracile, the people who I have read seem to me to have confused gracefulness in proportion (e.g. nasal bones of correct proportions and so on) with gracility in the sense of being lightly built. I find it plausible N.E. might be more so in the case of the former (or equally as much that they would not be), but it is important to distinguish between the two things, as they are quite distinct.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Jews and Roma, like other populations of Mediterranean or southwest Asian origin, tend to have brown eyes and a more robust face shape."

    Are you sure about this? My understanding was the Mediterraneans had higher craniofacial gracility relative to Northern Europeans who supposedly have more of a robust "Paleolithic survivor" element in the classical anthropology.

    e.g. http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2009/06/relationship-of-cranial-robusticity-to.html

    "Whereas South Europe is among the lowest scoring groups on both the shape and robusticity vectors… The more gracile groups (e.g., South European)"

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  • The stereotype is not hard to summarize. When a blonde isn’t dumb, she’s lascivious. This is no laughing matter. In fact, a lot of people seem to believe it according to a British survey: Actually, blondes have not always had this reputation. A very different one emerges from a study of Victorian-era novels: In each...
  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "The relatively small percentage of Jews that naturally do have light hair and Nordish features have family ancestries that are almost always mixed with NW Euros "gentiles", despite the fact the person in question may have an exclusive "Jewish" ethnic identity."

    The ashkenazi jewish gene pool has a significant european component. Virtually all of them are "mixed".

    Also, "nordish"? Who even uses that term?

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  • By the way, a large number of Jewish women are not brunettes, contrary to the stereotype. If you go on JDate (the Jewish online dating site) or to Jewish parties/social events, you'll see lots of natural blondish or light-haired girls.

    From my experiences in noticing Jewish phenotypes in women (and men) in the NYC area, the overwhelming average are not natural blondes or any other shade of naturally light hair.

    Many Jewish women do dye their hair, however, and of course many others get plastic surgery to acquire more of a generalized North West European look.

    The relatively small percentage of Jews that naturally do have light hair and Nordish features have family ancestries that are almost always mixed with NW Euros "gentiles", despite the fact the person in question may have an exclusive "Jewish" ethnic identity.

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  • *** They say that artificial blond hair is popular among Japanese of both sexes, even among construction workers.***

    It is amongst some of their star soccer players.

    http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/players/player=233500/index.html

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  • Sure…go ahead and leave out all us green-eyed redheads….

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  • @Peter, mais je le suis. My poor german could not possibly fool you?

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  • Ben10,

    Mais je croyais que tu étais francophone …

    Anon,

    The full reference is:

    Swami, V., M. Rozmus-Wrzesinska, M. Voracek, T. Haubner, D. Danel, B. Paw?owski, D. Stanistreet, F. Chaplin, J. Chaudhri, P. Sheth, A. Shostak, E.X. Zhang, A. Furnham. (2008). The influence of skin tone, body weight, and hair colour on perceptions of women’s attractiveness and health: A cross-cultural investigation. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 321-341.

    As for Japan, I'm just going by what I hear from friends (ex-ESL teachers). They say that artificial blond hair is popular among Japanese of both sexes, even among construction workers.

    Rocha,

    As a foreigner in Brazil, Roger Bastide was probably exaggerating. He also wrote that in Brazil "the ideal woman is not a blond or a fair-skinned woman but a brunette or dark-skinned woman and especially a "rosy-tinted" mulatto woman." I think this is only half-true. Fair-skinned women seem to be well represented among Brazilian pin-up girls.

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  • Rocha says: • Website

    "In the mid-1960s, Bastide (1967, p. 326) noted the following about the movie industry: “In Europe, a blond is usually the heroine, and a brunette the dangerous woman. In Brazil, the dark woman is loving and faithful, while the blond is the vamp who leads a man to ruin.”"

    I do not know much about how this was on the 60's but today in telenovelas this survives only in part. Blondes are overepresented as villains but there are also many "good" blondes, about the "dark woman" i doubt it is (or was) if the woman in question was black or mestiça, and even if she is a brunette usualy she is lighter (almost always in skin and sometimes in hair) than the mean in population.

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  • Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    "Blond hair is becoming popular in Japan. Swami et al. (2008) actually found a significant preference for blonde women by Chinese subjects. On the other hand, they were not preferred by Pakistani subjects (perhaps because of the connotation of sexual permissiveness)."

    Seriously? Chinese having a preference for blondes? That's a new one. What's the full citation? And what do you base the increasing preference for blondes among the japanese? I seriously seldom notice dyed blonde hair among japanese or korean women. I've noticed more males than females with blonde hair, but that's mainly among celebrities.

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  • "I don't "shiver in my boots""
    Ach, sehr gut, your boots must always be clean and shiny then.

    About this topic, seriously now, I understand that there is no point for a man who is not very attractive and not very successful to try to pick up the blondes at the top, right ? That's exactly what the blonde stereotype wants evreybody to believe, i.e, to convince that fair/blonde women are very demanded by wealthy men, and that poor guys, even of the same ethnicity, are loosing their time by competing with the rich.
    To me, there is a logic in all that. This modern negative blond stereotype is not born out of nowhere like an artificial random creation. It responds to the need of a competitor group. If blonde or fair women become less available or unconsciously less attractive for men of their own ethncitiy, then they will become more available for men of competitive ethnicities who therefore have advantage to spread this stereotype.
    Similarily, negative stereopypes put on white men (i.e: the nazi 'boots") will make blonde-fair women less attracted, consiously or not, by men of their own ethnicities, all for the same benefits: make these women more available for competitor groups.

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