There’s just something about red hair. Throughout history, it’s been associated with Vikings, magic, and even vampires, and today, people with red hair are seen as unique and special. Why? Not only is it extremely rare, but there are tons of fascinating and strange genetic differences that explain some of the mystique surrounding this hair color. From cool science to bizarre historical context, the following facts might make you start looking at redheads a little differently!
1. Blue eyes and red hair is the rarest combination on the planet
Have you ever seen a redhead with blue eyes? If not, there’s a very good chance you aren’t alone: it’s the rarest combination on Earth. According to figures from 2018 only 0.17 percent of the planet’s population sport that combination of features! Why is it so rare, though?
Well, as Professor Mark Elgar told the University of Melbourne website, “Red hair and blue eyes are both recessive traits, which means a person needs to inherit both of the genes from both parents. In contrast, brown hair and brown eyes are dominant traits.”
2. The first red-headed president was Andrew Jackson (or was it?)
Depending on who you ask, you might get a different answer to the question, “Who was America’s first red-headed President?” It’s caused suitably fiery debates over the years, with two guys vying for the crown. Andrew Jackson, who was the seventh man to take office, definitely sported red locks while he was alive.
But some won’t accept him as the first. You see, America’s inaugural leader George Washington reportedly had red hair when he was younger. Proof of that is hard to come by, though: there are no pictures to back up these claims.
3. Redheads are more sensitive to pain
Not everyone shares the same pain threshold: what could really hurt some folks won’t bother others in the least. Yet when it comes to redheads, there’s a good chance that they have a lower tolerance to aches and discomfort than the rest of us.
Why’s that, then? Well, as per USA Today, it’s all down to their genetics. The mutated gene that’s responsible for producing red locks, MC1R, shares the same space as the DNA segment tied to the pain receptors.
4. They are more likely to be lefties
According to a 2020 study in the Journal of Hand and Microsurgery, a mere 10 to 12 percent of Earth’s population is left-handed. Who knew it was that low? But get this: there’s also a pretty strong possibility that lots of redheads are among their number.
Much like with red hair, a recessive gene is present in people who favor their left hand over their right. And as those traits typically appear in pairs, that means there’s a high likelihood that redheads possess it.