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This film explores the hypothesis that different tones of skin color in humans arose as adaptations to the intensity of ultraviolet radiation in different parts of the world.
Our human ancestors in Africa likely had dark skin, which is produced by an abundance of the pigment eumelanin in skin cells. In the high ultraviolet (UV) environment of sub-Saharan (or equatorial) Africa, darker skin protects against the damaging effects of UV radiation. Anthropologist Dr. Nina Jablonski explains that the variation in skin color that evolved since our human ancestors migrated out of Africa can be explained by the trade-off between protection from UV and the need for some UV absorption for the production of vitamin D.
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