Human Skin Color - Geographic Variation

Geographic Variation

Approximately 10% of the variance in skin color occurs within regions, and ~90% occurs between regions. Because skin color has been under strong selective pressure, similar skin colors can result from convergent adaptation rather than from genetic relatedness, populations with similar pigmentation may be genetically no more similar than other widely separated groups. Furthermore, in some parts of the world in which people from different regions have mixed extensively, the connection between skin color and ancestry has been substantially weakened. In Brazil, for example, skin color is not closely associated with the percentage of recent African ancestors a person has, as estimated from an analysis of genetic variants differing in frequency among continent groups.

Considerable speculation has surrounded the possible adaptive value of other physical features characteristic of groups, such as the constellation of facial features observed in many eastern and northeastern Asians. However, any given physical characteristic generally is found in multiple groups, and demonstrating that environmental selective pressures shaped specific physical features will be difficult, since such features may have resulted from sexual selection for individuals with certain appearances or from genetic drift.

Read more about this topic:  Human Skin Color

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