The NY Times is the latest to bite on an apparently old chestnut:
How Blonds Evolve
Roger Dobson and Abul Taher report in The London Times (www.timesonline.co.uk) on a study suggesting blonds began having more fun in the Ice Age.
According to the study, North European women evolved blond hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males.
The study argues that blond hair originated in the region because of food shortages 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Until then, humans had the dark brown hair and dark eyes that still dominate in the rest of the world. Almost the only sustenance in Northern Europe came from roaming herds of mammoths, reindeer, bison and horses. Finding them required long, arduous hunting trips in which numerous males died, leading to a high ratio of surviving women to men.
Fair enough, but here is the fun bit:
However, the future of the blond is uncertain.
A study by the World Health Organization found that natural blonds are likely to be extinct within 200 years because there are too few people carrying the blond gene. According to the W.H.O. study, the last natural blond is likely to be born in Finland during 2202.
Extinction of Blondes Vastly Overreported
Media Fail to Check Root of 'Study'
...The World Health Organization says there is no such study -- and that most journalists didn't call to check.
"We've certainly never conducted any research into the subject," WHO spokeswoman Rebecca Harding said yesterday from Geneva. "It's been impossible to find out where it came from. It just seems like it was a hoax."
John Hawks supplies the appropriate withering put-downs