Non-European Blonde

Credit: nollyvines

Melanesia is a region in the Pacific Ocean east of Indonesia and northeast of Australia. It consists of New Guinea (split between Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian part split between Papua and West Papua), Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Nauru and French owned New Caledonia. Some of the native people living here can grow natural blonde hair. However, this is not due to any relation with Europeans. Instead, a gene called TYRP1 is the culprit, although not directly. The protein it codes for, tyrosinase-related protein 1, has a cysteine changed to an arginine at a highly conserved region (it means that it’s the same for most people) which effects its function, causing blond hair, albeit through a recessive inheritance. This is what is known as an allele, a slight change in a gene that all people share. This very small difference is what can give them a completely different hair color. This also means it is an independent change in the Melanesians since European blond hair is not caused by this allele. Unfortunately, children have a tendency to lose it when they grow older but it is still quite unique to see.

Study on TYRP1 mutation in the Solomon Islands:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3481182/

 

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