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It is noted in the text that the authors did not find evidenc of high LD in their tests for natural selection, XP-EHH or i HS.These tests are cued to pick up relatively recent selective events, on the order of ~10,000 years or so.
Additionally, blue eyes, which exhibits a higher frequency in Europeans than blonde hair, is not similarly common in these populations.
But there’s a very good reason I never expected there to be recent selection driving this anyhow: Australian Aboriginals sometimes manifest blonde hair, and the best genetic data suggests separation from Melanesians of at least 10,000 years.
Additionally, the Solomon Islands were not part of Sahul, so that’s a conservative estimate.
Another aspect of the phenotype was also straightforward: it did not seem that light hair color resulted in any concomitant lightening of the skin.
Granting that this was a heritable biological trait, the questions then were simple: was this trait an independent occurrence of de-pigmentation in Oceania, or was it due to introgression of European alleles?
What I am suggesting then is that this pigmentation mutation is an old feature of the Oceanian populations, on the order of tens of thousands of years.
That is why there isn’t LD around this region; any LD which existed was long ago eliminated by recombination.
The key though is to note that the specific mutation is not found in Europeans. The extremely close correspondence between the genotype and the trait, and the lack of similarity in the variants between Europeans and Oceanians, ends debate on questions of the heritability and possible exotic origin of the trait in Oceanians. So how did the Oceanians come to have such a high frequency of this trait?
Here’s a comment from one of the preeminent biological anthropologists of Melanesia: The mutation, which has no obvious advantages, likely arose by chance in one individual and drifted to a high frequency in the Solomon Islands because the original population was small, says Jonathan Friedlaender, an anthropologist emeritus at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study.
Those individuals who are homozygotes tend to have blond hair, while those who are not tend not to have blonde hair.
TYRP1 is a pigmentation related locus, so it isn’t surprising that the mutation was around that region of the genome.
First, one must note that this is not an isolated feature in Oceania.