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SciShow

WATCH: The Science of Red-Heads

BEC CREW
5 FEB 2015

No, red-heads don’t turn into zombies when they die, you shouldn’t burn the virgin ones, and if you have a recipe that calls for ‘the fat of a flame-haired man’, you should close that recipe book immediately and step away from it very, very slowly. It can’t know you’re onto it...

 

Everything I just said is completely nuts, but all of it has a place in the complicated and at-times troubled history of the red-headed human. (Except the evil, sentient recipe book, I just assumed that bit. But you can’t be too careful.) 

And while red-heads don’t have to worry about being accused of stealing Hellfire or of being conceived during menstruation, they’re now faced with the urban myth that they’re going to die out, because only 1 to 2 percent of the world is red-headed and the mutated gene that gives their hair that lovely cooper or auburn hue is so recessive.

But fear not, Hank Green is here to reassure everybody that redheads don’t have anything to worry about, except the fact that studies suggest they have a lower tolerance for pain than everyone else. According to the episode of SciShow above, a couple of studies run by the US National Institutes of Health found that red-heads are actually more sensitive to thermal pain - excessive heat or coldness - than others, and they require, on average, around 20 percent more anaesthetic than their dark-haired counterparts. (A handy tip for any red-heads on their way to the dentist.)

Why? Researchers aren't entirely sure, but it might have to do with how the gene that gives red-heads their unique hue is also involved in the release of our body's natural painkiller - endorphin. So why do these fair-skinned, endorphin-challenged, sunburn-machines (that we love so much) actually have an evolutionary advantage over everybody else in the cloudier regions of the world? Watch SciShow above to find out.

Source: SciShow