Tuesday, February 3, 2009

skin color - the remarkable truth

This morning I was listening to "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio. I heard the most fascinating presentation titled "Your Family May Once Have Been a Different Color". The author was Robert Krulwich, who contributes a regular column - "Krulwich On Science". He presented the research done by Nina Jablonski, head of the Penn State Department of Anthropology.

According to Jablonski, skin color is a very fleeting thing, changing over the course of as few as ten generations, depending on the migration patterns of human groups over the course of time. As groups migrate away from the Equator, skin evolves to be lighter in order to let in more UV rays to create vitamin D. As groups migrate towards the Equator, skin evolves to be darker in order to protect it against UV rays and the associated skin cancer.

Given the enormous importance that we place on skin color, it all seems to be absolutely ridiculous in light of this research. Why does anyone care? And thinking about it that way makes you really question those fringe elements that almost celebrate their skin color as a religion. All of them are probably related to someone who was the opposite color!

No comments: