Thursday, January 31, 2008

Here's a Big Shout-Out To All the Other Inbred Mutants Out There!

I've commented before that Foxnews has this way of attaching really spectacular headlines to stories that are actually pretty mundane. It happened again today. This headline has been widely commented upon in the blogosphere, and it was rapidly removed by Foxnews. I suspect that someone got a stern talking-to. Nevertheless, it was good for a laugh while it lasted.

The headline was attached to a story that's been all over the news today, about how the blue-eyed gene only entered the human genome relatively recently. Judging from the genetic record--specifically, which other genes tend to show in people who also have the one for blue eyes--it appears that the blue-eyed gene originated in a fairly isolated community. That is, there was a lot of inbreeding in that original community that allowed blue eyes to become commonplace. This apparently happened before the proto-Indo-European people split up and spread into Europe and central Asia, when our ancestors were still living in communities north of the Black Sea, in what is now Ukraine. This gene is fairly common in Northern Europe, but still shows up occasionally in other ethnic groups descended from the proto-Indo-Europeans, such as the Pashtuns. (Remember that beautiful National Geographic cover with the Afghan girl with the haunting, piercing eyes?)

The headline on Foxnews.com now reads "Scientists: all blue-eyed people are related." But that's not what it read this morning.

Earlier today, it read "Scientists: all blue-eyed people are inbred mutants."

I must object to that, in the strongest possible terms. I'll have you know, I'm not a mutant. :-)

Well, not that I know of, anyway.

Alas, my lovely bride is something of an amateur Geneaologist, and she discovered that my parents are actually tenth cousins. (Oh, the shame....) And she didn't even fill in every nook and cranny in my family tree, which runs through Arkansas and a bunch of other really fun places, so, ummm... Yes, I have blue eyes.

But to be fair, since my three children all have blue eyes too, it means that my lovely brown-eyed wife carries the recessive blue-eyed gene as well. And her family comes from rural Alabama and southwestern Kentucky. I suppose we should be happy our children each have the right number of heads.

So to all my blue-eyed homies out there: Here's a big shout-out to all you glorious inbred mutants! Let those baby blues shine! And if you have red hair too, long may it wave.

3 comments:

sunniemom said...

When it comes to 'news' articles that aren't *really* important, as in earth-shattering and life-changing, I think they should go ahead and have some fun with the headlines. What's wrong with reducing a study like that to a humorous nutshell? After all, the original headline DID portray the bottom line conclusion of this study, didn't it? :D

My husband and children are all inbred mutants- my eyes are green, so I must be Venusian.

Susan said...

Hello, fellow inbred mutant. Interesting about your kids' eye color as my kids got my blues too, even though their dad has eyes so brown, they're black. Black Irish, I suppose.

I would have been very happy for my children to have inherited their father's dominant browns with the hope that maybe a little less sunscreen needed to be slathered on endlessly.

What are the odds of a brown eyed pale skin, I wonder..

Timothy Power said...

Sunniemom: you know, I think you have a point about the headlines. They do work, after all; The news that I was an inbred mutant is of course what prompted me to read the article. And I did get a kick out of it. I think they probably took the headline down because there are a whole lot of people out there who get offended at this sort of thing, and that's a shame.

Susan: I've been hoping that one day we get a kid with my wife's brown eyes. She's also a sunburning pale-face, so the brown-eyed/white-skinned combo may not be as unusual as you think. Of course, my wife is still a mutant, as her eyes don't match--they are vastly different shades of brown from each other.

Inbred mutants of the world, unite! (Of course, that's how we got to be inbred in the first place.)