One of the most interesting aspects of our work on red hair and the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) was what it might say about human evolution. Although the chief justification of sequencing human DNA was understanding disease, what always seemed most interesting to me, was what we would learn about ourselves. The story of man: the greatest story ever told. And it is being told, as you can read from this article in Science:
How do you make a modern European? For years, the favored recipe was this: Start with DNA from a hunter-gatherer whose ancestors lived in Europe 45,000 years ago, then add genes from an early farmer who migrated to the continent about 9000 years ago. An extensive study of ancient DNA now points to a third ingredient for most Europeans: blood from an Asian nomad who blew into central Europe perhaps only about 4000 or 5000 years ago.