Genetics…

Shades of skin

  • Why do you think there are so many variations in human skin color?
  • The “Shades of Skin” article states that nearly all people of African, Native American, or east Asian descent carry a common pigmentation allele. Why do you think human populations that are geographically separated share this same allele? What does sharing a common allele indicate about human evolution?
  • During the early stages of human evolution, dark skin was adaptive in regions with a lot of sunlight and light skin was adaptive in regions with less sunlight. Today, people with different skin colors live all over the world. Would a modern dark-skinned person living in northern Europe (where there is less sunlight) suffer any negative consequences? What about a modern light-skinned person living in Africa (where there is ample sunlight)? Explain your reasoning.