Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blonde Berbers   posted by DavidB @ 9/27/2007 04:11:00 AM

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the little blonde girl photographed in Morocco turns out not to be missing British girl Madeleine McCann, but the daughter of a Berber farming family, who are said to have three other blonde children.

Most of us will have been vaguely aware that blonde hair and fair skin are not uncommon among the Berbers, but it has evidently come as a surprise to the general public. It is usually explained by a hypothetical element of European ancestry, whether from Roman slaves (as in this Daily Mail article), the Vandals, or more prosaically from the colonial occupation by French soldiers and government officials (who presumably didn't just twiddle their thumbs).

I wonder if there is any hard genetic evidence? Y chromosomes might at least show whether the paternal ancestry is recently European. An alternative, and more interesting, explanation would be that the Berbers are the remnants of an older, more 'Caucasian', North African population.