THE SCIENCE OF RED HAIR by MsLibrarian

THE SCIENCE OF RED HAIR by MsLibrarian

I once heard an emergency room nurse say they called for extra blood when someone with red hair is brought in.

BLOOD PLASMA

BLOOD PLASMA

NURSE

NURSE

Being a redhead I asked why and was told “you bleed more”.  How bizzare I thought.  Not long after  I asked a friend of mine who worked as a delivery room nurse if she heard such a thing and she responded with “sure!..Everyone knows it”.

Not everyone!

Redheads are mutants. That should not come as a surprise to those of you who know us. We are a freaks from birth and are treated that way most of our lives. Teased, harrassed, loved and feared. But did you know there was science behind it??

GIRL WITH RED HAIR

GIRL WITH RED HAIR

If you want to produce a true redhead you need two people who carry a recessive gene called chromosone 16. When they come together you end up with a mutation in the MC1R protein and there you go….a redhead is born!

What that means for the child goes well beyond a fear of the sun and an inability to wear pink.

First off, the dentist!

I used to drive mine mad. I was always crying and trying to push them away when I was a kid. It hurt so much! Even though they gave me the shot, I could feel every pinch of the clamps and my gums would scream!  As I got older I got more vocal. “I’m not frozen!” I would say and they would give me a second shot, or a third. Once I was given the maximum amount allowed and then sent home as I could easily feel what they were doing. I couldn’t explain it then but I can now.

A growing body of research shows that people with red hair need larger doses of anesthesia and often are resistant to local pain blockers like Novocaine. As a result, redheads tend to be particularly nervous about dental procedures and are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist as people with other hair colors, according to new research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

OFF TO THE DENTIST

OFF TO THE DENTIST

More on my vindication can be found here.

I also remember getting my tonsils out. Not the whole operation, but more than I should remember. I remember what the OR looked like and I remember being awake, and in pain, as I was wheeled out of the OR and being taken to recovery. I was told it was all a dream. Or was it?

Go forward 20 years and I’m a week away from having my gallbladder removed when a coworker tells me they heard of a study showing redheads waking up during surgery isn’t uncommon. I’m a Librarian! I started to research and guess what??

The University of Louisville did some studies on redheaded women (only women, they didn’t want to mix up the genders) and how they related to anesthetic.

The researchers determined that roughly 20% more anesthetic was required, on average, for the redheads compared with the women of other hair color — a finding that was highly statistically significant.

SURGERY

SURGERY

MedScape

With this research in hand I went to see my Doctor and he laughed. I spoke with the anesthiologist who was putting me under and he said he was used to redheads. They put me out before 8am on a Tuesday with assurances to talk with me in the afternoon. Too bad I didn’t come out of the anesthetic until Wednesday! None of the nurses or the attendings thought it was unusual. “It’s the hair”.

I also have issues with over-the-counter and prescription. Tylenol doesn’t work on me when ibuprophen does. Some medications that are supposed to knock me out make me hyper and others that have warnings for hypertension put me to sleep.

Redheads also feel pain differently than others. In some cases we feel it stronger while in others less. Scientists are still investigating what all this means.

THE MATERIAL OF DNA

THE MATERIAL OF DNA

“Seventy per cent of redheads are redheads because a particular gene doesn’t work,” Prof. Jeff Mogil of Montreal’s McGill University, told CTV News.

“This is a gene that would otherwise give you brown hair. This gene is also relevant to pain and painkilling by certain drugs.”

Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/…

I hope you find this look at redheads and our quirks interesting if not educational.

I just like to inform 🙂

A REDHEAD IN A PREDICAMENT

A REDHEAD IN A PREDICAMENT

UPDATE: Since this is still on the rec list (heading to 24 hours now!!), I thought I should point out some something highlighted in some comments. Don’t take my word on this stuff. Do the research yourself! Read the reports, etc. See what it says. Also, what is experienced by one isn’t true of all redheads (or all people!). Everyone is still an individual.

DRAGONS IN THE AIR by Desert Scientist

DRAGONS IN THE AIR by Desert Scientist

Dragonflies and damselflies (Order Odonata)  are among my favorite insects, perhaps after ants, bees and wasps. They are beautiful, especially when alive (even with acetone treatment, the colors are never as vibrant in dead specimens as in the live insects.) They are among the best fliers of the insects and have among the best eyesight of any invertebrate (cephalopods and jumping spiders eyes may be better.)

DRAGONFLY

DRAGONFLY

They are also very ancient, with fossilized specimens from the Jurassic being nearly indistinguishable from  some modern forms. Their relatives were flying in the Carboniferous forests and so they have survived several major extinction events, although the scorpions beat them out for the land arthropod survival record, having existed since the Silurian and had emerged onto dry land by the Devonian. 

ADULT DRAGONFLY

ADULT DRAGONFLY

I was first enchanted with dragonflies by reading an article in the National Geographic by James G. Needham (August, 1951.)  Little did I know then that I would eventually know the co-author, Minter Westfall, of the second edition of Needham’s Manual of the Dragonflies of North America, published in 1955 and followed by a completely revised version in 2000, after the death of Dr. Needham, with an additional co-author Michael L. May. Professor Westfall was an interesting man and I got to know him fairly well while I was at the University of Florida. Among other things I got to see his collection of odonates, kept in glassine envelopes instead of the usual insect pins, and treated with acetone to preserve as much of the original colors as possible.

While in New Mexico I taught courses in aquatic insects and thus added to my knowledge of both dragonflies and the frailer damselflies. I started to take photographs of them when I got the opportunity and thus added several species to the known fauna of the area. Some dragonflies are very difficult to photograph, especially the large darners, and it takes a lot of persistence to get good images.  Still it is very much worth it!

The Odonata are divided into three suborders, of which two occur in the United States and Canada. Our suborders are the Zygoptera (damselflies) and the Anisoptera (dragonflies). The most common families of the Zygoptera are the Calyopterigidae (broad-winged damselflies or demoiselles), Lestidae (the spreadwings) and Coenagrionidae (or pond damselflies.) The most common families of the Anisoptera are the Aeshnidae (the darners- the largest in body size members of the order), Gomphidae (the club-tails) and the Libellulidae (Skimmers, Meadowhawks, Pondhawks, etc.) The Libellulidae contains the largest number of species in North America.

DRAGONFLY

DRAGONFLY

The odonates, while as adults definitely terrestrial, and some almost always in the air, start out as strange aquatic nymphs (often called naiads- which I prefer as it tells you that they are aquatic, and these days the convention is to refer to them as larvae). These creatures look very different from the adults and have extensible lower lips (labia) with hooked claws.  They use these to capture prey, for they, and the airborne adults, are aggressive predators. In the case of the naiads, of small fish, tadpoles, other aquatic insects and even other dragonfly or damselfly naiads.  The naiads of damselfly species are easily distinguished from those of dragonflies because they have external gills as projections from their abdomen. Dragonfly naiads have internal gills. Odonate immatures can exist in very small puddles and some even can be terrestrial in rain forests, where they remain wet during their early stages.  

DRAGONFLY AT REST

DRAGONFLY AT REST

Adult dragonflies are especially familiar and their aerial acrobatics, beautiful colors and delicate wing structure have inspired poets and artists for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. They are, of course, important in their own function as predators of other insects, including mosquitoes. Although most odonates breed in water, the adults of dragonflies are strong flyers and can be found many miles from a lake, marsh or pond. Males often stake out territory from which they drive other males. Females coming into this territory are seized and mating takes place. The males of some odonates then clasp the female back of the head and provide a flying platform as they lay their eggs.  In other species the female lays alone and may even mistake a shiny car surface for water and attempt to lay eggs there. 

There are many references on odonates, and in recent times binocular identification has become popular, so several books treat the identification of them using these, such as Sydney Dunkle’s Dragonflies Through Binoculars (2000).  There are also several definitive books on odonate identification. Among these are Dennis Paulson’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (2012) and Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West (2009). A more specialized book is Tim Manolis’ Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. However it has excellent illustrations and most of the West Coast species are included.

[This article on Dragonflies first appeared in Backyard Science, SciTech, and Community Spotlight.  All of the pictures used are by the author.  We are publishing the story with the permission of Daily Koz. We found it both informative and interesting and believe our readers will, too.]