- Around 5 to 10 percent of Melanesians have bright blond hair, despite their dark skin.
- They have 2 copies of a mutant gene that can be found in 26 percent of the island’s people.
- The light hair darkens as one grows older.
Nowadays, seeing black people with blond hair has become quite common. People of color no longer hesitate to lighten their locks and wear their hair blond just like white people do. It’s common knowledge that black people are not born with blond hair – unless you know about the existence of Melanesians.
Melanesians are black people living in the Solomon Islands. They are considered as one among the few groups of people who have natural blond hair outside Europe. Melanesians migrated long before the Africans did. Now Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania, which extends from the western end of the Pacific Ocean eastward to Fiji, to the Arafura Sea.
Around 5 to 10 percent of Melanesians have bright blond hair, despite having the darkest skin outside of Africa.
There are several theories as to why they were born this way – mixed breeding with Europeans and Americans, high fish intake, and whitening of the hair via sun and salt.
Sean Myles, a geneticist from Nova Scotia agricultural college in Canada, did a genetic analysis from around 1000 Melanesian residents in the Solomon Islands. He gathered hair and saliva samples and compared blond islanders to brown islanders.
It turned out that the blond ones have 2 copies of a mutant gene that can be found in 26 percent of the island’s people.
The TYRP1 gene was found to be the cause of their blond hair and melanin.
It’s a recessive gene and often found in children than in adults. A Melanesian’s blond hair usually darkens as he grows older.
The indigenous people of Melanesia used to practice old practices such as head-hunting and cannibalism. Now they are mostly Christian and have rural lifestyles.
The name of the region was first used by French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville in 1832. It denotes a geographical and ethnic grouping of islands different from Micronesia and Polynesia. The region is composed of islands including Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands.
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