Evolution of Skin Pigmentation Differences in Humans
Published Online: 15 JUL 2008
Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. All rights reserved.
How to Cite
Norton, H. L. 2008. Evolution of Skin Pigmentation Differences in Humans. eLS. .
- Published Online: 15 JUL 2008
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The distribution of human skin pigmentation variation is highly correlated with the intensity of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Several hypotheses propose that this strong relationship between skin colour and UVR is best explained by natural selection. The identification of a large number of genes involved in the pigmentary system now enables researchers to test these hypotheses within an evolutionary genetics framework. Genetic data indicate that the light pigmentation that characterizes populations in Europe and East Asia has evolved independently through positive selection, and that functional variation in pigmentation genes in high UVR populations has likely been subject to purifying selection.
- skin pigmentation;
- natural selection;
- human evolution