Melanesians are the world’s only black blondes, and they live in the Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia, with an unusual trait: stunning dark complexion and naturally blond hair.
Melanesians are a group of black islanders in the south Pacific who migrated thousands of years ago, long before the blacks that came to the Americas as slaves.
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Blondes are thought to be found only among Caucasians, so how could the Melanesians, who live largely east of Papua New Guinea in Oceania, have the world’s darkest skin outside of Africa and blonde hair? For years, many scientists have been perplexed by this question.
Melanesians Blond Afro Origins
Visit the Solomon Islands in Melanesia, about 1800 kilometers northeast of Australia.
There’s a remarkable contrast here: roughly 10% of the dark-skinned islanders have bright blond afros. The origins of this golden hair have been attributed to sun and seawater bleaching, a fish-rich diet, and the genetic legacy of Europeans or Americans.
However, a new study suggests that blond hair originated independently at least twice throughout human history, pointing to a random mutation. Other novel genes, including those with major health repercussions, could be discovered in communities that have been understudied.
Until now, geneticists and scientists have attributed the odd trait of the over half-million Melanesian people to inheritance – particularly from the British, German and Australians, who have been associated with the island for several years.
Many of the islands were under German control in the nineteenth century, and the UK seized control of the southern Solomon Islands in 1893, declaring the region a protectorate.
Melanesia is a sub-region of Oceania that stretches from the Pacific Ocean’s western edge to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region includes Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia, as well as the most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia. Jules Dumont d’Urville coined the term Melanesia in 1832 to describe an ethnic and physical cluster of islands different from Polynesia and Micronesia.
Until recently, the indigenous Melanesian people, like the Asmat tribe, practiced cannibalism, headhunting, kidnapping, and enslavement, but with the arrival of Europeans, the population has become largely Christian. However, more than 90% of people reside in rural areas.
When it comes to dark complexion and blond hair, the Solomon Islands’ Melanesian people are the focus of attention. The Solomon Islands are an independent state within the British Commonwealth, located in the South Pacific, in the heart of Melanesia, just northeast of Australia, between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.
Despite having the darkest skin outside of Africa, between 5 and 10% of the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants of the islands have beautiful blond hair.
Sun and salt whitening, high fish intake, or genetic legacy from mixed-breeding with Americans/Europeans who created the islands have all been proposed as explanations for their blond hair.
Sean Myles, a geneticist from Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Canada, conducted a genetic analysis on saliva and hair samples from 1209 individuals of the Melanesian Solomon Islands.
He discovered that the blondes have two copies of a mutant gene that is prevalent in 26 percent of the island’s population after comparing 43 blond Islanders to 42 brown Islanders.
The Melanesian people have a native TYRP1 gene that is partly responsible for blond hair and melanin, and it is completely different from that of Caucasians because it is not found in their genes.
It’s a recessive gene that affects more youngsters than adults, with hair that darkens as the person grows older.
This supports the hypothesis that black Africans were the original homo sapiens and that all races descended from them.