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DNA mutation accounts for white skin


Electronica Addict
Political User
Penn State University scientists claim to have discovered a genetic mutation responsible for the emergence of white skin between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago. From the Washington Post:
The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of "the race gene." Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is -- and is not.

In fact, several scientists said, the new work shows just how small a biological difference is reflected by skin color. The newly found mutation involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome -- the complete instructions for making a human being.

"It's a major finding in a very sensitive area," said Stephen Oppenheimer, an expert in anthropological genetics at Oxford University, who was not involved in the work. "Almost all the differences used to differentiate populations from around the world really are skin deep.
Interesting story as I love reading about pre-historic stuff and evolution :)
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- geek -
I love to see findings like this. Wonder how those still "fighting the war" in the south will take such news. :laugh:

Grandmaster said:
Interesting story as I love reading about pre-historic stuff and evolution
Yeah I watched a special on national geographic or discovery (sorry can't remember which) in which they were trying to find the "genetic adam" which would have some chromosome mutation that everyone in the world shared. Was really interesting stuff.


Not all there...
Hey, great! I'm a mutant! Can I enroll at Xavier's school now. (Gotta confess, though, I ain't gonna look so hot in those tight, black leather X-suits...):speechless:

Son Goku

No lover of dogma
Meh, it's been known for some time that the gene (or actually genes, as there is more then 1 gene for the production of melanin) for ligher production (aka fairer skin) is the recesive counterpart. There were like 5 seperate genes (not all on the same chromosome, as I remember) which worked together to give the total melanin production however (aka how there are more then 2 skin pigments, light and dark)... There's also another gene which to prevent it's production (aka shown in albinos), where albinism (not sure that's even a word :lol: ) is the receisve trait.

Doesn't entirely surprise me that the recesive of the 2 genes might have been the mutated version...

And sure enough, and as they said, skin pigment is only one variation. Some others include specific cranial characteristics, and (and there are more variations here, then account for the races alone); but several distinct groups of mitochondrial DNA... Some newer theories are also suggesting that all humans didn't simply come "straight from Africa", but that to a limited degree there was some inter-breading with other humonoid groups (aka Europeans have some rather distinct features in common with Neanderthals). There are actually 3 theories on this...


Political User
Very interesting. I saw on a documentary that scientists estimate that the change in color wasn't as fast as a mutation though ... that it'd take 20k years from humans to develop white skin from their darker African cousins.

This paragraph is also very interesting:

The work also reveals for the first time that Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations. That means that light skin arose independently at least twice in human evolution, in each case affecting populations with the facial and other traits that today are commonly regarded as the hallmarks of Caucasian and Asian races.
I find that what most people call white (Caucasians) are not white at all when compared to very many Asians (mostly of Chinese, Korean, Japanese descent as compared to Asians who are of Malayan descent, eg: SE Asia, Oceania.) who literally are white.

It's interesting to find out more about where we have come from. However, in this case, I think what we have become and will become is far more important than our journey to become the species we are today.

Son Goku

No lover of dogma
Well besides the fact that I've taken archaeology in the past (one of my first semesters out at UNM), there have been some documentaries on television, as well as some articles online... I've seen various stuff ranging back since the early 1990s, though there's info about today, and of course some ideas have been further developed over time.

The first, which is the more traditional outlook, aka the "Out of Africa" theory which assumes that Homo Sapien, Sapiens (aka us) all originated out of Africa and displaced the native huminoids (aka Homo Sapien Neanderthal for instance), the second sapien or what not being the sub-species. Either the native populations died off, were whiped out by modern humans, whatever...

However, a second theory was devised, when for instance it was recognized that in one area around Israel (I think it was), that a group of Neanderthals and a group which represented Homo Sapien Sapiens (or perhaps Crow Magnon man) lived in close proximity...close enough that it would have been impossible for them to have not run into each other and perhaps been aware of each other.

Combining this with various characteristics which were found in common (aka certain Neanderthal facial features, also found today in modern humans). The idea here was that rather then being wiped out, perhaps Neanderthals interbred with the other humonoids at the time, and at least some of their genes survive in us. This of course would presume that different sub-species of Homo Sapien were at least genetically compatible enough, to have had offspring together...

A third (though more recent) theory suggests that though modern humans in large part had come out of Africa to a limited degree there was some inter-breeding with the native Homo Sapien species they encountered. It doesn't necessarily assume it to have been quite as wide spread as the second theory however; and in many respects almost seems a blending of the above 2 theories. Also, though Neanderthals and people of Europoean decent are mentioned; it's been pointed out that there were also native groups of Homo Sapiens in Asia at the time as well, who might have themselves to a limited degree interbred with those who came from Asia to that continent as well...

Some have questioned this (prefering to hold to the more traditional "out of Africa" view) and whether much can be made from similarities in for instance cranial patterns from the skulls discovered then and modern humans today. One thing people have looked towards, to help resolve this, is whether a trace of mitochondrial DNA from one of these primitive humans has found it's way into the modern human population...

Son Goku

No lover of dogma
Oh, and not related to our decent, but some people might find interesting nonetheless... This was taken from an advanced bio class I had taken in high school (though in many ways it was considered to be the equivalent of some college level classes offered senior year, on an elective basis).

The genes involved in skin pigmentation (and there are several for melanin production) aren't necessarily all active at the moment of birth. Some genes are "switched off" when someone is born, and only begin expressing themselves latter in life.

Note here the "toe heads" I think they have been refered to who can be blond, blue eyed, and fair skinned at birth. However as they move into latter childhood and beyond, their skin and hair can begin to darken, and their eyes can change shades.

I was such a kid through my younger years. Though before adolesence, my eyes had changed from blue to hazel, and my skin/hair had darkened considerably... I have a friend also who said his hair was white when he was born, and even when he and I first met some 11 years ago his skin was still fiarly fair and easily burned. His hair has darkened somewhat since then, though he was 22 at the time we first met... Course gene expression and how the genes are regulated can be an even more involved process, then simply what genes are there.

Perris Calderon

Staff member
Political User
Electronic Punk said:
I just hope that one day I can be cured.
hang on a branch over a wood fired pit after rolling in salt naked.

you'll be cured in two to three days

or, more specifically for every fifty pounds you carry try these fine ingredients;

saltpetre, one ounce

sugar, one and three-fourths pounds

coarse salt, three and one-half pounds

water, two gallons

Son Goku

No lover of dogma
Sazar said:
I always knew the mutants would take over the world.

You bastards :eek:

Actually, based on Vern's post, people of Asian decent are just as much a mutant, as those of European decent :angel: Africans would be the non-mutated humans. Yeah, I know you're joking :D

Electronic Punk said:
I just hope that one day I can be cured.
Meh, a recesive genetic traite doesn't necessarily mean one needs a cure. :) Actually, there are also such things as dominant genetic disorders. Huntigens disease is one of them, where the gene causing it is dominant, and homogenious recessive (in one's geneotype) for this traite is required to avoid it latter in life...


MS-DOS 2.0
Political User
Funny how I was thinking about this the other day without even knowing about this scientific study. I often think that the emergence of different races could possibly create different species in a million years or so. After all, we always talk about that "common ancestor" when we think talk about human evolution; so, who knows, maybe we're the "common ancestor" for some future species at some astronomical point in the future.

Regardless, interesting stuff.

Son Goku

No lover of dogma
The only thing I see with a suggestion of different species (or arguably sub-species such as existed with Neanderthals and Crow Magnons) is that one would expect it to result as differing people's are isolated and have a chance to evolve along different paths.

I see something different happening however; due to what has been refered to as the "melting pot". Basically people of differeing races and nationalities have been comming together, not seperating themselves out. This has included greater racial tollerance (for, for instance mixed marriages and people of mixed decent). Attitudes have largely gone from a certain intollerance to one of acceptance and "well if those two people are in love".

When my mother and father first met, my father decided to joke around putting a wig on his head that looked somewhat like an Afro. My mother's nosey neighbor started rumors that she was getting together with a black man (as if it would have been a bad thing), and even used it to try to get the land lord to kick my mother out of her apartment. My parents were married in the 1960s...

Today, with myself for instance; I wouldn't care what the nationality or race of a girlf friend or wife would happen to be. First and fore most, I'd be more concerned about whether we could live under the same roof and provide the sort of environment that should be there before children enter into the picture. If 2 people are constantly arguing and can't get along themself; they're not likely to do any better once kids enter into the picture.

In some ways, I almost see the different races comming together at some time in the future; until perhaps race might have become a concept of the past...

Electronic Punk

Staff member
Political User
I need more coffee, I thought this thread said "DNS accounts for white skin"
I know DNS can have its troubles, but I had already read this thread and should know better :)

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Perris Calderon wrote on Electronic Punk's profile.
Ep, glad to see you come back and tidy up...did want to ask a one day favor, I want to enhance my resume , was hoping you could make me administrator for a day, if so, take me right off since I won't be here to do anything, and don't know the slightest about the board, but it would be nice putting "served administrator osnn", if can do, THANKS

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What a long strange trip it's been. =)

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