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In Africa, for example, red hair is selected against because high levels of sun harm untanned skin.
However, in Northern Europe this does not happen, so redheads can become more common through genetic drift.
Even if both parents do not have red hair themselves, both can be carriers for the gene and have a redheaded child.
Genetic studies of dizygotic (fraternal) twins indicate that the MC1R gene is not solely responsible for the red hair phenotype; unidentified modifier genes exist, making variance in the MC1R gene necessary, but not always sufficient, for red hair production.
Because of the natural tanning reaction to the sun's ultraviolet light and high amounts of pheomelanin in the skin, freckles are a common but not all-inclusive feature of red-haired people.The non-tanning skin associated with red hair may have been advantageous in far-northern climates where sunlight is scarce.Studies by Bodmer and Cavalli-Sforza (1976) hypothesized that lighter skin pigmentation prevents rickets in colder climates by encouraging higher levels of vitamin D production and also allows the individual to retain heat better than someone with darker skin. concluded that red hair is not the result of positive selection but of a lack of negative selection.In species other than primates, red hair has different genetic origins and mechanisms.Red hair is the rarest natural hair color in humans.
Abd ar-Rahman I also had red hair, his mother being a Christian Berber slave.