Skin Color: Are We All the Same?

As explained on the Smithsonian Museum’s website, “the DNA of all people around the world contains a record of how living populations are related to one another and how far back those genetic relationships go.” (“Human Skin Color Variation”). Many people, including scientists, have made amazing discoveries to prove that this statement is true. Scientists can argue that humans are 99.9% the same, even the same race. (Highfield) However,  skin colors are all different because of how everyone and everything evolved.

One explanation of how skin colors evolved was because of migration. Scientists believe that all Homo sapiens share one common place of origin and evolution, Africa. Our ancestors then moved to all over the world where a lot of melanin, the skin’s brown pigment, wasn’t needed as much because of lower ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As these early humans had less sun, their skin got pale in order to absorb as much UV rays as possible. Those who stayed in Africa began to develop darker skin, as to block out too much sun. Those with pale skin needed more UV because it helped them build up vitamin D in their bodies, which is needed for strong bones.

Those with more melanin and darker skin, on the other hand, needed less UV because too much UV can decrease your folic acid and lead to birth defects. (“Human Skin Color Variation”)

            Another example of why skin color evolved is because of climate. For example, in the places where the weather was hotter, people developed an almost hairless skin and they developed sweat glands. The sweat glands were there in order to cool down the body in a more efficient way. In order to survive in this climate, they needed darker skin. For ancient people who lived in cooler climates, the opposite was true. Because they were getting fewer UV rays in their colder climate, they needed more vitamin D who they developed lighter skin. (“Human Skin Color Variation”)

Another huge reason why humans have different skin color was because of what was included in their diets. This happened because a coastal person, for example from Canada or Alaska, whose diet consisted of mainly seafood, which was rich in vitamin D, could afford to stay dark skinned because the vitamin D they weren’t getting from the sun, which was a lot, they were getting from the seafood they ate.

In conclusion, skin and its varieties of color have thousands of explanations to why skin is the way it is, but what we do know is that skin evolved throughout millions and millions of years. Migration, climate, diet, and UV rays have a lot to do with all the skin pigments that exist today. Thanks to scientific discoveries we now know that skin is one of the reasons why humans and all living things today have survived and will continue surviving. 

Works Cited 

Highfield, Roger. “DNA Survey Finds All Humans Are 99.9pc the Same.” The Telegraph. 20

December 2002. Web. 29 October 2012.

“Human Skin Color Variation.” Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Web. October 20,

2012.


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