Why move from black to white?
October 2, 2013 6:56 AM Subscribe
Why did the humans who came to Europe switch from dark to light skin pigmentation? Did they
lose skin colour...?
posted by sodium lights the horizon to science & nature (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
There are two questions here - the second of which I only realised as I was trying to explain the first one.
1) If you imagine that (in a parallel universe) the cradle of humanity was somewhere in Sweden, I can understand the evolutionary logic for humans developing darker skins as they moved into areas that had harsher solar environments.
But, when a group of humans left Africa and moved across the Med and headed for Scandinavia, what was the benefit to losing the darker skin pigmentation? Is this 'just' a random quirk of genetics of the group that headed north, or is there some benefit to being pale? Is darker skin more biologically expensive to create or maintain? Does light skin allow better photo-reactions (vitamin D maybe?) than dark skin?
2) While writing that, I suddenly realised that I have no idea what colour skin humans had when we first spreading out to take over the planet. Is there any evidence as to what skin colour we had as early hominids?