Skin color variation, Steve Olson
Interviewee: Steve Olson. Author Steve Olson speaks about the evolutionary explanation for one of the more obvious differences between people - skin color. (DNAi Location: Applications > Human Origins > Variation > Interviews > Skin color variation)
We know that as people moved into parts of the world where they had more or less exposure to the sun, their skin color changed accordingly. In fact, the Bushmen, the group with, that I spent time with down in Botswana, tend to have lighter skin in Africa, than Africans who still live much closer to the Equator, and are subject to higher levels of solar radiation. Very dark skin in those cases by the Equator is protective, and as you move farther away from the Equator your skin can be lighter, in fact in some respects it may need to be lighter so that you can generate enough vitamin D to be able to have strong bones. This is an explanation, probably the leading explanation, for why the skin of the people who moved into the far northern latitudes, into Europe and into northern Asia became so light. By the same token if you look at another group of people who came out of Africa and went to Australia and New Guinea, they continue to have very dark skin largely because of the environments in which they live.
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