Did You Know

Myth or Fact: Could Redheads Be Headed For Extinction?


While developers are busy creating emojis for redheads, there's speculation that genetic scientists are hard at work trying to protect gingers from going extinct.

In the last few years, there have been multiple reports that in about 100 years, redheaded people will no longer walk the planet. According to the extinction myth, climate change and death of the red hair recessive gene are two factors that will cause redheads to no longer exist.

Since only 2% of the world's population are redheads, the theory claims that the rare gene is likely to die out due to natural selection.

Additionally, since red hair came to be as a natural response to the lack of sun people in certain areas of the world were getting, some arguments claim that global warming could affect the gene.


Some scientists are convinced that gingers could be gone as early as 2060 and even if they are correct, there isn't enough research to backup these theories. Based on other credible research, it is highly unlikely that the recessive MC1R will ever die out.

Turns out, a genetic ancestry testing company is behind the ridiculous extinction myth. The unsupported claims most likely stemmed from an ad campaign by ScotlandsDNA to promote their genetic ancestry packages and add-ons.

The only part of the myth that holds some truth is that redheads will become rarer in the future due to people having children outside of their ethnic groups. For the ginger gene to disappear, every redhead and every non-ginger carrier of the gene would need to stop procreating until they all die. Since stopping people from having sex is impossible, redheads are here to stay.

Dr. Barry Starr, a geneticist at Stanford University, did some calculations based on the current population of gingers in the world and came to the conclusion that even the number of redheads go down, it will never stoop lower than 0.99% of the population. This means out of the 7 billion people on earth, at least 6.3 million of them will always be redheads.

So you can relax, redheads. You could someday become an endangered species but you're not going anywhere.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.