Recent genetic discoveries coupled with Scriptures lead us to an intriguing possibility: Adam had red hair and a ruddy, or rosy, complexion. This notion is based on the following three pieces of evidence:
(1) The name Adam means “red.”
(2) Adam’s complexion was tuned for the early atmosphere.
(3) Neanderthal had a ruddy/rosy complexion.
(1) The name “Adam” means “red.” Look it up in any dictionary in any language and it means “red.” It comes from the Hebrew word “adam” which means “red” (Strong’s ref H119, H120). So, why would God call the first human “red?” I have known several people in my life who were called “red,” and they all had red hair and rosy complexions. We also know that the Bible proclaims that the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground (also from the Hebrew H119 meaning redness), received the breath of life, and became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). The blood is arguably the center piece of creation: it gives us life and is the source of redemption (Hebrews 9:12). If Adam was, in fact, rosy, his complexion would display this center piece of the creation – the blood.
(2) Adam’s complexion was tuned for the early atmosphere. The early atmosphere was different from what we have now. The fossil evidence shows us that there were giant dragonflies, mammoth millipedes and huge cockroaches, just to name a few. These insects could not survive in our present atmosphere and would have required 30 to 50 percent more oxygen than we have presently.(Ref 1) This early atmosphere would affect the vitamin D production in humans. It is known that rosy complexioned people are very efficient at producing vitamin D from sunlight. It follows that the complexion of those who occupied the Earth before the flood were various shades of “rosy” in order to optimize vitamin D production. Then, the darker shades of skin pigment were activated after the flood to accommodate the new ecosystem. Had the darker skin pigments been activated before the flood, there could have been problems with inadequate production of vitamin D which typically result in rickets, bone deformities, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, asthma, cancer, and/or physiological problems. These ailments would not be consistent the Creators proclamation that the entire creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31) in the beginning.
(Technical note: Increased oxygen, by itself, would not significantly reduce the amount of ultraviolet radiation on the surface of the Earth, but ozone which does filter ultraviolet radiation is a product of oxygen. The assumption being that a higher percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere would result in more protective ozone layer.)
In the beginning, God gave the command, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.” We can be confident that He also gave man the genetics to provide the optimum skin and hair color to fulfill this charge. Then, after the flood, when Noah disembarked from the Ark, God again gave the decree to “fill the earth.” Again, with this decree, we can be assured that the Creator activated the proper DNA, optimizing skin pigment variation. If one looks at the present distribution of skin pigmentation on the globe, it is obvious the darker skin colors inhabit the equatorial regions and the lighter skin colors occupy the more northern and southern latitudes.
(3) Neanderthal had a ruddy/rosy complexion.
We at Genesis and Genetics have concluded that Neanderthal is, in fact, antediluvian man (i.e. pre-flood man) (Ref 2). If we are correct, Neanderthal is the key to understanding Adam and our roots. Two Neanderthals have been sequenced for the Mc1R gene (this gene is known to determine rate and type of pigment production thereby determining hair color and skin color). The two Neanderthals had the Val92Met (Ref 3) and Arg307Gly (Ref 4) variations of this gene, both of which are known to produce red hair and rosy complexions. It is important to point out that one Neanderthal fossil was found in Italy and the other found in Spain, leading us to suppose they were not closely related. It is not known whether these variations in Neanderthals are dominant or recessive; it is also not know if the Neanderthals had one or two copies of these variations. Therefore, we must wait to know how much variation in hair color and complexion the Neanderthals had. Today, approximately one percent of the world population has red hair. So, if Neanderthals had the same mix, the probability of testing one Neanderthal and finding it had red hair would be 1 in 100. The probability of finding two unrelated ruddy Neanderthals would be 1 in 10,000. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider that a greater percentage of Neanderthals had red hair and rosy complexions than modern humans and they inherited them from Adam.
Neanderthals have been of keen interest among anthropologists for many years. There are many Neanderthal fossils and DNA sequences which have inspired scientists to make replicas based on the best evidence. These replicas of Neanderthal generally have red hair and rosy complexions.
Adam’s hair color and skin complexion have been a great mystery, but we are getting closer to the answer. Based on the Biblical meaning of the name “Adam”, the knowledge of the early atmosphere characteristics, and the consideration that Neanderthal is Adam’s close offspring, we at Genesis and Genetics are persuaded that Adam had red hair and a rosy complexion.
(3) Qiliang Ding, Ya Hu, Shuhua Xu, Chuan-Chao Wang, Hui Li, Ruyue Zhang, Shi Yan, Jiucun Wang, Li Jin; Neanderthal Origin of the Haplotypes Carrying the Functional Variant Val92Met in theMC1R in Modern Humans. Mol Biol Evol 2014; 31 (8): 1994-2003. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu180
(4) A Melanocortin 1 Receptor Allele Suggests Varying, Science 318, 1453 (2007);Carles Lalueza-Fox, et al., Pigmentation Among Neanderthals DOI: 10.1126/science.1147417
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Keywords: Adam complexion, Adam hair color, Neanderthal hair color, Neanderthal complexion, antediluvian complexion, antediluvian hair color.