Recent studies at Penn State trace light skin color to genetic mutation 10,000 years ago

January 7, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Good morning again:

From time to time, we have discussed the question, why racism?

My own view is that we are all basically the same and skin color, like hair color or eye color, is merely a cosmetic difference that has nothing to do with intelligence or anything of substance. I believe racists are stupid and willfully ignorant white people driven by hate who deserve to be publicly confronted and humiliated at every opportunity. I do not believe that racism has ceased to be a problem except for black people who complain about discrimination. In fact, I think that is one of the most idiotic accusations that I have ever heard. Racism has always been a major problem in this country and if anything it’s a bigger problem now than in the recent past because so many racists are so loud and proud about it.

Well, here is an interesting article in Penn State News that traces all light skinned people back to a genetic mutation in a single individual approximately 10,000 years ago.

All instances of a gene mutation that contributes to light skin color in Europeans came from the same chromosome of one person who most likely lived at least 10,000 years ago, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

While the genetics of skin color is largely unclear, past research using zebrafish by the College of Medicine’s Keith Cheng identified a key gene that contributes to lighter skin color in Europeans and differs from West Africans. In 2005, Cheng reported that one amino acid difference in the gene SLC24A5 is a key contributor to the skin color difference between Europeans and West Africans.

“The mutation in SLC24A5 changes just one building block in the protein, and contributes about a third of the visually striking differences in skin tone between peoples of African and European ancestry,” said Cheng, distinguished professor of pathology. Lighter skin color may have provided an advantage due to for the better creation of vitamin D in the lesser sunlight characteristic of northern latitudes.

In this current part of the project, Victor Canfield, assistant professor of pharmacology, together with Cheng, studied DNA sequence differences across the globe. They studied segments of genetic code that have a mutation and are located closely on the same chromosome and are often inherited together. This specific mutation in SLC24A5, called A111T, is found in virtually everyone of European ancestry.

Hopefully, Drs. Cheng and Canfield will soon bury theories of racial superiority based on skin color beneath an avalanche of scientific evidence.

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Thank you,

Fred


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