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The Biology of Skin Color

By HHMI BioInteractive

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.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group HHMI BioInteractive

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Version 1.0 - published on 01 Jul 2019 doi:10.25334/94C4-AY97 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International according to these terms

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Description

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.

The “Abbreviated Film Guide” provides a short summary of the film, along with key concepts and connections to curriculum standards.

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