The Evolution of Human Skin Color Essay

The Evolution of Human Skin Color Essay

Length: 1016 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

According to Darwin and his theory on evolution, organisms are presented with nature’s challenge of environmental change. Those that possess the characteristics of adapting to such challenges are successful in leaving their genes behind and ensuring that their lineage will continue. It is natural selection, where nature can perform tiny to mass sporadic experiments on its organisms, and the results can be interesting from extinction to significant changes within a species.

Human beings are no exception to biological evolution. Like other organisms around the world, humans have significantly changed overtime and have developed all sorts of diverse characteristics. One noticeable characteristic of human beings is the variation of skin color. Skin color has been used to identify, classify, and verify the variation that exists in the human population around the world. How did such a distinct variation arise and how did it play into adaptation?

I’ve often heard that “humans came from monkeys,” or something similar. It is true that humans’ ancestors were primates, who first resided in warm and sunny Africa; they had similar features to today’s apes, such as a hairy body. The purpose of the vast amount of hair was to protect the body from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and to prevent overheating, mainly by acting as a barrier for the skin underneath the hair (Jablonski, 598). Some parts of the body such as palms were not covered with hair, but with sweat glands. Sweat glands allowed the body to cool off via evaporation at the surface of the skin; sweat glands were more efficient at thermoregulation. Overtime, early humans with a high amount of sweat glands were selected for since they had the best method at the time to keep themselves cool in warm environments (Kirchweger). This meant that overtime, humans lost most of their hair on their bodies, leaving their skin exposed. Sweat glands were going to help the body to cool down, but they couldn’t protect the skin from harmful UV rays. This is where melanin worked its magic, and it’s the reason for the diversity in skin color today.

Melanin helps reduce the absorption of wavelengths into the skin (Chaplin, Jablonski, 59). The more melanin in the skin, the greater the protection against harmful UV rays, and the amount of melanin in the skin correlates with the skin’s color (more melanin means darker skin)....

... middle of paper ...

...m all over the world, with all hues of skin colors. With interracial dating and marriages and more “mixing” of skin colors, there are multiracial children with various skin colors. Genetically, it enhances variation within the individual, but what about variation within the species? I heard a joke once that eventually in the future, everyone will be beige. Will everyone mix together to an extent that there will be little to no variation anymore, at least skin deep? It’s an interesting concept to think of. At the moment, I believe that there is enough diversity within the human species that we don’t need to worry about the lack of variation in the near future. For now, we can appreciate the diversity of skin colors that has allowed our ancestors to adapt to their environments and survive. It has allowed them to create a lineage of who we are today.

Works Cited:

1) Chaplin, G. Jablonski, N. “The Evolution of Human Skin Coloration.” Journal of Human Evolution 39 (2000) 57-106

2) Jablonski N. “The Evolution of Human Skin and Skin Color” Annual Reviews Anthropology 33 (2004) 585-623

3) Kirchweger G. “The Biology of… Skin Color” Discover 22 (2001)

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Living Color : The Biological And Social Meaning Of Skin Color And The Origin

- Have you ever felt startled when the question about race or ethnicity is being asked. Should this question be asked. In the book Essentials Of Physical Anthropology, by Clark Spencer Larsen, Larsen states that race “… symbolizes the misperceptions that many Americans and others around the world have about human variation” (Larsen 2016:101). Nina G. Jablonski in her book Living Color: The Biological And Social Meaning Of Skin Color describes race as only one, which is the human race. In the following, I will go more in depth on what is race and skin color and the origin, What is a species and why are us human considered a global species, What defines and what constitutes a semi-species and s...   [tags: Human, Race, Species, Reproduction]

Strong Essays
820 words (2.3 pages)

Evolution of Human Skin Pigment Essay

- Evolution of Human Skin Pigment Have you ever wondered how and why people are different colors. This paper discusses the evolutionary theories behind diversity in human skin pigment. Though previous theories hypothesized that darker skin evolved in order to protect people from sunburn and skin cancer, the prominent theory today relates to folate protection and vitamin D production. The prominent theory today about how and why skin pigment in humans developed with the color diversity that exists today, is that ancestral populations of humans inhabited areas with different UV radiation concentration....   [tags: radiation, vitamin d, environment]

Strong Essays
898 words (2.6 pages)

America Is A Melting Pot, With Individuals With A Variety Range Of Different Skin

- America is described as a melting pot, with individuals with a variety range of different skin color, hair textures, and facial features. In addition, people also differ in language, culture and religion. This phenomenon does not only occur in America, it is common among the world. Our unique difference in melanin and other traits are due to cultural selection, evolution and sun exposure millions of years ago. Our skin tone is attributed to where our ancestors lived in relation to the equator, the lightest people lived in a higher latitudes in relation to the equator and the darkest among the equator....   [tags: Race, Human skin color, Race, White people]

Strong Essays
736 words (2.1 pages)

Essay about The Color Black And The Skin Color Of African Americans

- In order to prove his thesis, Jordan uses the theory that whites related the connotation of the color black to the skin color of African-Americans. He begins the book with an explanation of the first interaction between Europeans and Black Africans and explains the theories of the causes of complexion. Two major theories are mentioned: proximity to tropical climates, disproved by the color of natives in the Americas, and that blacks are the religious descendents of Canaan, the son of Ham, cursed by Noah as the servant of servants....   [tags: Black people, Race, African American, White people]

Strong Essays
893 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Mid-Term on Human Evolution

- ... 3) In what ways is the human primate a typical primate. In what ways is the human primate unique. The way that human primates are the same as a typical primate are the resemblance that they have. Both males and females have their physical differences between one another, both have similar hands and skin, and both can walk on their two legs. Primate has the same vision as we human do and see the world. Our sense of smell is equal to an anthropoid primate. The way human primate are unique from traditional primate is that humans have an extremely larger brain that has the ability to create cultures with complex symbolic communication system....   [tags: Darwin, primates, early humans]

Strong Essays
539 words (1.5 pages)

Alternative Genetic Influences On H Sapien Evolution Essay

- Alternative Genetic Influences on H. sapien Evolution The DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of all the people living in our world today contains a record of human history. Just like a family tree, our DNA shows how we are related to our relatives and takes us back in our history to those that came before us. Most of us have old, black and white photos of some of the folks on our family tree and we find, for the most part, that those ancestors looked fairly similar to us. However, scientist are now finding that if you could obtain a photo from members of your family tree over 40000 years ago you may find it a bit difficult to point out any similar features....   [tags: Human, Human evolution, Archaic Homo sapiens, DNA]

Strong Essays
1830 words (5.2 pages)

The Evolution of Skin Tanning Essay

- The Evolution of Skin Tanning One of Catherine’s insatiable obsessions in Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden is to darken her skin color. She accomplishes this by sun tanning at every opportunity possible, and naturally, her skin turns many shades darker. Catherine’s skin tanning fixation at the time the story takes place coincides with the premiere of skin tanning as a stylish and chic fashionable pursuit. Traditionally, tanned skin was undesirable to the public. Prior to the industrial revolution, most manual labor was done outside under the sun where such constant exposure resulted in darker skin....   [tags: Sociology Essays Research Papers]

Strong Essays
826 words (2.4 pages)

Essay Physical Differences Between Humans And Human Beings

- The physical differences in humans have been around a long time. This population multiplied and spread around the world and ended up replacing the present population elsewhere. The diversity of traits is an advantage and this is true for any species. In fact, we as human beings are quite homogeneous. Initially we were a single population relatively small, and we ended up extending from East Africa, in a short time in terms of the evolutionary scale. As we expand, we had to adapt to the local environment, and move around from one climate to many different climates....   [tags: Evolution, Natural selection, Human]

Strong Essays
1156 words (3.3 pages)

Race And Human Nature Of Race Essay

- Race by definition is a group of people identified as distinct from other groups because of supposed physical or genetic traits shared by the group. However, most biologists and anthropologists do not recognize race as a biologically valid classification, in part because there is more genetic variation within groups than between groups (definition of race, n.d). In the United States, both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences....   [tags: Race, Human, Africa, Evolution]

Strong Essays
1158 words (3.3 pages)

Essay about Melanoma Skin Cancer

- The largest organ of the human body is your skin. It is your body’s first line of defense against infections, injuries, heat, and sunlight. It also helps in controlling the temperature of your body and getting rid of the excess water and salt by sweating it out. Skin cancer is also known as cancer of the sun. Excessive amounts of ultra violet lights affect your skin in negative ways, possibly leading to Melanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer there is and can often times be fatal (McClay)....   [tags: Health ]

Strong Essays
1066 words (3 pages)