Anthropologists recently found that “classic” fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, are much older than previously thought, and that many cultures have different versions such stories.  According to an article in the Telegraph, researchers discovered this by adopting “techniques used by biologists to create the taxonomic tree of life, which shows how every species comes from a common ancestor.”

Dr Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at Durham University, studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world.

Whilst the European version tells the story of a little girl who is tricked by a wolf masquerading as her grandmother, in the Chinese version a tiger replaces the wolf.

In Iran, where it would be considered odd for a young girl to roam alone, the story features a little boy.

Contrary to the view that the tale originated in France shortly before Charles Perrault produced the first written version in the 17th century, Dr Tehrani found that the varients shared a common ancestor dating back more than 2,600 years.