In DepthHuman Genetics

How Africans evolved a palette of skin tones

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Science  13 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6360, pp. 157-158
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6360.157

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Summary

Most people associate Africans with dark skin. But different groups of people in Africa have almost every skin color on the planet, from deepest black in the Dinka of South Sudan to beige in the San of South Africa. Now, researchers have discovered a handful of new gene variants responsible for thispalette of tones. The study, published online today in Science, traces the evolution of these genes and how they traveled around the world. While the dark skin of some Pacific Islanders can be traced back to Africa, gene variants from Eurasia also seem to have made their way back to Africa. And surprisingly, some of the mutations responsible for lighter skin in Europeans turn out to have an ancient African origin.