European Skin Turned Pale Only Recently, Gene Suggests
Neanderthal's red hair color has nothing to do with the red hair of modern humans.
Neanderthals 'were flame-haired'
OK, but I will just add this to clarify it's not that modern human doesn't have the gene, we do, it's just not the same, yes.
All humans carry the MC1R gene, but modern redheads possess an altered, or mutated, version of it.
This rare variant does not work as effectively as more common forms of the gene. This loss of function alters the chemistry of the cell, producing red hair and pale skin.
In the latest study, the authors retrieved fragments of the MC1R sequence from Neanderthal bones found at Monte Lessini in Italy and from remains unearthed at El Sidron cave in northern Spain. DNA is notoriously difficult to obtain from very old specimens such as these.
"This was a bit like finding a needle in a genomic haystack. I couldn't believe we found it the first time. I asked my friends to repeat the results. Eventually the variant was found in two separate Neanderthals in three different labs," said Dr Lalueza-Fox.
Same article you linked.