The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-23-2009, 01:21 AM
Daratora Daratora is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Where did Blond hair come from?

So where did it come from. I have never hear or read about blond cavemen and women.

Last edited by Daratora; 07-23-2009 at 01:26 AM..
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 07-23-2009, 01:26 AM
Mr Buttons Mr Buttons is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
For the effort of chiming in first, it's blonde.

And I think it's mostly from scandanavia/geman descent. I was the blondest kid you've ever seen in your life (german), but it eventually turned brown.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-23-2009, 01:29 AM
Daratora Daratora is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Buttons View Post
For the effort of chiming in first, it's blonde.

And I think it's mostly from scandanavia/geman descent. I was the blondest kid you've ever seen in your life (german), but it eventually turned brown.
it can be spelled both ways. its in the dictionary.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-23-2009, 01:42 AM
Nametag Nametag is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 7,710
I don't ever read or hear about hair at all; I'm not sure there's a lot to go on, there. That said, the general pallor of northern Europeans is generally credited to the lower UV exposure in those latitudes. There are reasons to argue with this, but that's really all we've got. Blond is the natural color of unpigmented hair; any mutation that reduces melanin in the skin is probably associated with reducing melanin in the hair as well. The skin change allows more UV through, which is harmful in the tropics but beneficial in the arctic. Other northern peoples apparently got by OK without such a mutation popping up, but where it did arise, blonds out-competed their darker cousins. Under the theory above this was due to a survival advantage, but it might have been due to reproductive advantage, as blondes are well-known to have more fun.

Last edited by Nametag; 07-23-2009 at 01:44 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-23-2009, 01:46 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 23,226
I take it you've never seen One Million Years BC.

More seriously, this article suggests that blond hair and blue eyes might have evolved in Northern Europe near the end of the ice age as a means of sexual selection.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:52 AM
Anaglyph Anaglyph is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
To have dark hair and/or skin, you need the enzymes that produce the dark pigments. It is very easy for a mutation to destroy the function of an enzyme, or to prevent its production, therefore it will happen from time to time.

In an environment where humans need the sun-protection afforded by the dark color, individuals carrying these mutations on both copies of the gene will remain a rare exception.

In an environment where lack of pigmentation confers a selective advantage, either by allowing for more efficient production of vitamin D in northern latitudes, or through mating preferences, or for whatever other reasons, individuals carrying these mutations will become more frequent over the course of many generations.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-23-2009, 05:09 AM
Fake Tales of San Francisco Fake Tales of San Francisco is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
I've never heard about brown or ginger in early humans, nor that they were fond of or exclusively lived in caves.

Last edited by Fake Tales of San Francisco; 07-23-2009 at 05:10 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-23-2009, 06:48 AM
Fuzzy Dunlop Fuzzy Dunlop is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Buttons View Post
For the effort of chiming in first, it's blonde.
From dictionary.com:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Random House Dictionary
Usage note:
The spelling blonde is still widely used for the noun that specifies a woman or girl with fair hair: The blonde with the baby in her arms is my anthropology professor. Some people object to this as an unnecessary distinction, preferring blond for all persons: My sister is thinking of becoming a blond for a while. As an adjective, the word is more usually spelled blond in reference to either sex (an energetic blond girl; two blond sons), although the form blonde is occasionally still used of a female: the blonde model and her escort. The spelling blond is almost always used for the adjective describing hair, complexion, etc.: His daughter has blond hair and hazel eyes.
So not really.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-23-2009, 06:51 AM
njtt njtt is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Buttons View Post
For the effort of chiming in first, it's blonde.
A blond moment there!

It is a loan word from French, and as such usually still follows the French gender system, so a fair haired woman is blonde and a fair haired man is blond. (Of course our culture seems to care more more about women's hair color than about men's, so you tend to see the feminine form more often.)

Do we actually have any evidence one way or another about hair color in paleolithic man? Hair surely does not fossilize well.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-23-2009, 08:31 AM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Why wouldnt you have heard of a blonde caveman? Do you mean artist's depictions or imagery in popular media. Well, thats not science.

Early humans werent much different than we are today. They came in all sorts of colors. The invisible hand of evolution doesnt care if youre a modern or early human. If you arent making enough vitamin D from lack of sun exposure then those who are more fit and have more children will be those with lighter skin and lighter hair, as the two have a genetic relationship. Areas of the earth with less sunlight like in northern Europe will tend to select for this.

Last edited by HorseloverFat; 07-23-2009 at 08:33 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-23-2009, 08:59 AM
Philster Philster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daratora View Post
it can be spelled both ways. its in the dictionary.
"It's" also in the dictionary, and since we are picking on the subtle differences in word spelling, it's also the correct spelling for the start of your second sentence. Caps would help, too.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-23-2009, 09:31 AM
garygnu garygnu is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
...but it might have been due to reproductive advantage, as blondes are well-known to have more fun.
Nah, they're just easier to spot in the dark.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-23-2009, 09:36 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daratora View Post
So where did it come from. I have never hear or read about blond cavemen and women.
It's a mutation. At some point a child (or more likely several, independent of one another) was born, probably somewhere in present-day Eastern Europe or Western Asia, with a mutant gene which encoded for light yellowish hair; the mutation was either beneficial in cold climates, or at least not harmful, so the child lived to reproduce, and so the mutant gene spread.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-23-2009, 10:08 AM
hellpaso hellpaso is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Mine comes from Clairol.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-23-2009, 10:11 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by HorseloverFat View Post
Early humans werent much different than we are today. They came in all sorts of colors. The invisible hand of evolution doesnt care if youre a modern or early human. If you arent making enough vitamin D from lack of sun exposure then those who are more fit and have more children will be those with lighter skin and lighter hair, as the two have a genetic relationship. Areas of the earth with less sunlight like in northern Europe will tend to select for this.
Depends on how you define "early humans". Until we migrated out of Africa, some 50 or 60 thousand years ago, it's unlikely that we had the broad range of features and shades of skin/hair we see in the world today. We don't have a way of knowing that for sure, but it's unlikely.

We can see some echoes of what are generally considered non-African features in the San Bushmen of Southern Africa and some other populations, but just a hint.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 07-23-2009, 11:48 AM
dracoi dracoi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
I have a hard time believing sexual selection as the reason for blond hair or a light complexion. Blond people may get their first pick of mates, but men are just not that picky. Every culture I can think of adapted to an excess of available females through some sort of polygamy arrangement even if it was the more restrained Hebrew practice of having a widow's husband's brother get her pregnant.

The cited article says that blond hair is associated with higher estrogen levels. Isn't that a better link for the spread than sexual selection? If blond hair was naturally more attractive to mates, you wouldn't need higher estrogen levels to go with it.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 07-23-2009, 11:54 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Evolution isn't about need. Not every characteristic is selected for; some are beneficial, but some just aren't detrimental and stick around.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 07-23-2009, 02:06 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,777
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
Blond is the natural color of unpigmented hair; any mutation that reduces melanin in the skin is probably associated with reducing melanin in the hair as well.
I don't think so. Some old people have white hair that is quite different from the yellow associated with blond hair. I would say the absence of pigment is white hair.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07-23-2009, 02:24 PM
gigi gigi is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 18,071
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
It is a loan word from French, and as such usually still follows the French gender system, so a fair haired woman is blonde and a fair haired man is blond.
I thought women and men are both blond, but a blond woman is a blonde and a blond man is a blond.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 07-23-2009, 03:07 PM
chrisk chrisk is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Southern ontario
Posts: 5,979
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
I don't think so. Some old people have white hair that is quite different from the yellow associated with blond hair. I would say the absence of pigment is white hair.
Probably true. The 'yellow hair' pigment is one that, I suppose, seldom turns off except in cases of extreme age or albinism. Blondness is the absence of the other, darker pigments.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 07-23-2009, 09:00 PM
hobscrk777 hobscrk777 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
On a related note, why does blond hair get darker and browner with age, when I was very young, say up until about 10 or so, my hair was naturally a very distinctive platinum blond. When I see most other kids this age with blond hair, it is typically the same color. However, my hair has been steadily "browning" with age. I'm in my early 20s now and my hair is dirty blond / light brown now. Most people I see my age and older that are "blond" (naturally, not dyed) really have this dark, sandy blond hair color. Why is this?
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 07-24-2009, 12:42 AM
dracoi dracoi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
For many people with blond hair (myself included), the amount of time they spend in the sun affects the color - the more time outside, the lighter the color. Adults tend to spend all day working whereas kids have recess, PE and summers and afternoons off.

I don't know if there's more to it than that.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-24-2009, 11:09 AM
Fair Rarity Fair Rarity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobscrk777 View Post
On a related note, why does blond hair get darker and browner with age
That's why I think there is a sexual attraction element to blond hair. Blond signifies youth, youth = healthier and fertile which makes lots more hunters and gatherers.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 07-24-2009, 11:19 AM
blondebear blondebear is offline
Shouting Grasshopper
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Meridian/280
Posts: 10,382
I got mine from my mom's side of the family.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 07-24-2009, 05:27 PM
Electric Monk Electric Monk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daratora View Post
So where did it come from. I have never hear or read about blond cavemen and women.
If you're talking about GEICO-type cavemen, i.e. Neanderthals, at least some of them were redheads.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1025143311.htm

Also, despite their extremely dark skin, many Australian Aborigines have blond hair, which is thought to be a result of sexual selection, perhaps combined with a "founder effect".

http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2005/08/blo...boriginals.php
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 07-24-2009, 06:13 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 22,350
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobscrk777 View Post
On a related note, why does blond hair get darker and browner with age, when I was very young, say up until about 10 or so, my hair was naturally a very distinctive platinum blond. When I see most other kids this age with blond hair, it is typically the same color. However, my hair has been steadily "browning" with age. I'm in my early 20s now and my hair is dirty blond / light brown now. Most people I see my age and older that are "blond" (naturally, not dyed) really have this dark, sandy blond hair color. Why is this?
That is a legitimate question. I was blonde as a toddler and my hair got darker and darker to the point where I have to argue with people now whether I have black hair or really, dark brown hair. My youngest daughter is trending the same way.

People can be flip all they want but I think the OP has a really good question and I am pretty sure that no one in the world has the answer yet. The same thing applies to skin color although lots of people think they know the answer based on simplistic information.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 07-24-2009 at 06:15 PM..
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:02 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.