Monday, December 14, 2009

Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin

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    • The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

      Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of "the race gene." Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is -- and is not.

    • The work also reveals for the first time that Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations. That means that light skin arose independently at least twice in human evolution, in each case affecting populations with the facial and other traits that today are commonly regarded as the hallmarks of Caucasian and Asian races.
    • Some scientists said they suspect that white skin's rapid rise to genetic dominance may also be the product of "sexual selection," a phenomenon of evolutionary biology in which almost any new and showy trait in a healthy individual can become highly prized by those seeking mates, perhaps because it provides evidence of genetic innovativeness.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.