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Prehistoric mutation linked to white skin

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posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 10:01 AM
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Scientists have announced that a single mutation is responsible for the development of 'white' skin in the European population:

www.washingtonpost.com...

"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."

"The work raises a raft of new questions -- not least of which is why white skin caught on so thoroughly in northern climes once it arose. Some scientists suggest that lighter skin offered a strong survival advantage for people who migrated out of Africa by boosting their levels of bone-strengthening vitamin D; others have posited that its novelty and showiness simply made it more attractive to those seeking mates."

This finding raises some interesting questions... and it will surely become controversial. On one hand the study shows that 'whiteness' is caused by a single mutation -- a fact that some people will undoubtedly use to argue that the notion of 'race' should be dismissed -- yet on the other hand the rapid spread of this mutation (and its dominance within a large geographical area) might indicate that it confers a decisive biological advantage.


[edit on 19-12-2005 by onlyinmydreams]




posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 10:08 AM
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It would have been interesting to live in a time where the white people were the overwhelming minority.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:18 AM
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"white" people are the overwhemling minority of people on the planet.

Why woudl it be 'nice'???



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 11:25 AM
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I saw another article about this same finding, in which they mentioned that Europeans have more genetic similarities to Ethiopeans than the people of West Africa have to Ethiopeans.

Perhaps that's the part of Africa where we came from originally.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:35 PM
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Originally posted by onlyinmydreamsThis finding raises some interesting questions... and it will surely become controversial.
[edit on 19-12-2005 by onlyinmydreams]


It's definately an interesting announcement (I'm not sure I'm ready to call it a revelation just yet because every once in a while scientists are wrong, but I'm completely open to the strong possibility that they have the data and are making a logical conclusion from it).

It is interesting because of the status it is so likely to enjoy in the "race debate", which, however laughable it is or ought to be, does continue to have serious practical implications, since bad ideas are just as able to influence human actions as good ones (sometimes moreso).

My two cents on the implications of the news:
As far as I can tell, whites didn't actually fair any better than anyone else in early history, and any disparity which arose later had little if anything to do with skin color.

As far as I can tell, whites are prominent in Europe because (to the best of my knowledge) Europe has never been as heavily populated as Africa or Asia, so if you had a relatively sparse population starting out in Europe that included the first few whites, they'd stand a pretty decent chance of not being bred out. Factor in simply that their being different is a sexual advantage, a happy coincidence of their skin color and chosen home in terms of Vitamin D advantage, and their odds aren't horrible. But that hardly argues for supremecy. If I may digress for a moment, just to nail things down in case anyone would like to spin this news somehow for race-baiting purposes...

(Preemptive Rant)
Europe was dominant in global events for a relatively brief period by virtue of making good use of other people's ideas, perhaps being a little greedier at times, and of course just plain getting lucky.

Luck would be the big factor in my view. If Europe hadn't stumbled bass-ackwards into two sparsely populated new continents in the late 15th century, they'd have eventually gotten to India and China like they were trying to do, and they probably would have done it relatively quickly.

That would have probably been unpleasant for Europe, considering that for a considerable part of the 16th Century European armies were still doing as much with cold steel as they were with hot lead. As far as I'm concerned, Christopher Columbus pretty much saved Europe from having to fight fair with brown people for the next 400 years.

So there goes any notion that once whites emerged that they suddenly swept the globe by virtue of any inherent advantage. European civilization (if I may generalize) probably enjoys a fair status as far as speedy development goes (at least by the standard of our values- it bears mentioning that Native Americans and others probably didn't "keep up" because they had a different notion of what "up" was, and even then plenty of brown people were way a. of us for the better part of civilized history) but it can hardly be denied that the Arabs and Chinese serve as ready evidence against any argument of white supremacy, and infact European civlization basically got where it did only because more advanced civilizations didn't see or take the opportunity to do to Europe what Europe would eventually do to them.
(/Preemptive Rant)

Long story short, yay for us mutants, just nobody try to call it a superior evolutionary path, lest I be compelled to bludgeon you with a very large history book.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:37 PM
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Originally posted by AceOfBase
I saw another article about this same finding, in which they mentioned that Europeans have more genetic similarities to Ethiopeans than the people of West Africa have to Ethiopeans.

Perhaps that's the part of Africa where we came from originally.


And I have heard of DNA test that calim Ethipioan Jews share similar characteristics with bushmen of Kalahari.

There is a thread somewhere on ATS titled 'Are White People Mutants' or something like it. Might be good for a look if you can find it.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:44 PM
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Aside from skin coloration, was there anything said about the different physical characteristics?
Other than perhaps leaving that to evolutionary theories?

Regardless, good post.
Interesting . . .



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 12:59 PM
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EDIT: Off Topic, never mind.

[edit on 19-12-2005 by AceOfBase]



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 01:17 PM
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Originally posted by Desert Dawg
Aside from skin coloration, was there anything said about the different physical characteristics?


The thing about "other characteristics" is that there isn't a typical black, white, or brown person.
There's Arnold Swatzen-however-you-spell-him and there's George Bush.
There's Kareem Abdul Jabar and there's Barak Obama.
There's Yao Ming and there's Kim Jong Il.
etc etc etc.

The physical characteristics of humans are pretty diverse, although not to the extent that is seen within other species. So you really can't classify physical differences between skin colors too much.

Diet probably has a lot to do with it; I don't know if it's true but I've heard that the average height in Japan has increased considerably since McDonalds, among other things, was introduced.

Cultural preferences can play a role in whom gets to sleep with whom in some cases, and also in who has what role in society which may increase or decrease life expectancy. In the most disgusting case you can look at some of the stereotypes directed towards African-Americans and trace part of it to the fact that several generations of them were selected for importation and then bred for physical characteristics desireable in a laborer.

Then there's geography, both in terms of which groups interbreed and in terms of natural selection of favorable characteristics- you'd wouldn't expect to find a lot of really skinny people living in colder climates, because the kind of metabolism that won't let a guy gain weight tends to create human-flavored popsicles.
In the most extreme cases you get "the hobbit" they found in Indonesia- hominids in the 3-4 foot range, likely the product of "island dwarfing".

I hope I don't seem like I'm beating a dead horse, I guess what I'm just taking the long way of saying, "other evolutionary theories"- though not in the spectacular sense that many people might think of evolution.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 03:18 PM
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Vagabond,

This discovery shows how a single fact can be spun in very different ways. Since this morning I've read about ten more articles on this discovery. About half have framed it in such a way that it proves that race is a meaningless concept... and the other half have stated that this one gene could not have become so widespread if it did not confer some sort of natural advantage.

I understand your point about how this trait could have become universal in europeans if 'whites' were the first people in europe... but we know from anthropology that there were a variety of earlier populations in europe (the neanderthals come to mind) and the authors of the study have directly stated that white skin may have helped with vitamin d production in northern climes... meaning that the success of whites in northern areas is no accident.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 04:10 PM
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So who's "white" anyway? Are they talking Johnny Winter white? I'm Caucasian, but I sure ain't white. More of a ruddy peach...



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 05:39 PM
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Originally posted by onlyinmydreams
I understand your point about how this trait could have become universal in europeans if 'whites' were the first people in europe...


I'm not even saying they'd have to be the first. I'm just saying that if I'm correct in my understanding that Europe has historically not been as highly populated as other regions near Africa, then statistically that's just the place where a relatively rare divergent trait would have the best odds of not being beaten out by competition.

Also I'm certainly not denying advantages such as that respecting Vitamin D production. I'm simply padding against the possibility that some misguided soul might show up and try to make an argument for a vast disparity in human potential, perhaps not even one merely confined to the conditions of one particular region, on the basis of this one little bit of news.

I acknowledge and have no difficulty with the fact that there are subtle differences between various genetic lines of humans and that this does make certain people better suited to certain environments.

I'm just wary of seeing a much broader argument raised; from the average ATSer that obviously isn't a problem, but every once in a while we've had a really screw loose show up. I particularly recall a thread where some guy argued that you HIV couldn't develop into AIDS unless the victim had "the gay gene". I kid you not, I've actually participated in that argument on ATS, and stuff like that sort of makes my blood boil- mostly just out of indignation for what it does to the appearance of ATS.


meaning that the success of whites in northern areas is no accident.


In northern areas is the key phrase that makes you right. As I've said, my concern would be with somebody asserting an overall superiority which gives whites a comparative advantage in whatever circumstance.



posted on Dec, 19 2005 @ 08:46 PM
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I read about this in the news a couple days ago; quite interesting. I wonder if problems with this gene produces albino-skinned people?

On a less serious note, now I can truthfully say I am a mutant! Woohoo!



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 12:17 AM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
"white" people are the overwhemling minority of people on the planet.

Why woudl it be 'nice'???


Er, really? Can you provide a link that says white people are the least populated peoples on the planet? I would be interested in seeing it.

Do you think that there was a time when the fairer skinned were enslaved by the more dominant darker skinned people?

I wonder now about reparations. "What you did to my ancestors for four-hundred years", could possibly be rebutted with, "Yeah? What about what your ancestors did to mine for 1,500 years?"



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 04:47 AM
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Now doesn't this kind of throw a bit of an obstacle in the white supremisist belief regarding their suppossedly "pure" race?

I guess the jokes on them.



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 07:56 AM
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I doubt that beeing "different" was an advantage at that time... the attraction was binded with a "healthy" aspect... so, if you had this kind of aspect, I would more easily believe that they were rejected...



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 08:13 AM
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Originally posted by Lillo
I doubt that beeing "different" was an advantage at that time... the attraction was binded with a "healthy" aspect... so, if you had this kind of aspect, I would more easily believe that they were rejected...


Don't be so sure. It's not as if humans can sense genetic weakness when choosing mates. Tall tends to be a good thing, though not always, lean/muscular tends to be a good thing, but not always, but then in some respects there are illogical preferences. Why do blondes have more fun? Why are Asian girls so popular with American men? Why are so many men attracted to ridiculously narrow figures which don't exactly indicate the capacity to bear many children?

Sometimes being a novelty gets you laid.



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 09:24 AM
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Originally posted by Enrikez

Originally posted by Nygdan
"white" people are the overwhemling minority of people on the planet.

Why woudl it be 'nice'???


Er, really? Can you provide a link that says white people are the least populated peoples on the planet? I would be interested in seeing it.

Do you think that there was a time when the fairer skinned were enslaved by the more dominant darker skinned people?

I wonder now about reparations. "What you did to my ancestors for four-hundred years", could possibly be rebutted with, "Yeah? What about what your ancestors did to mine for 1,500 years?"


Er... get out more. Whites are a serious minority. China and India alone acount for 2/5ths of the world with almost no whites. Africa is huge and populous with mostly blacks and some arabs. Europe, Russia, US, and Canada are the only countries with lots of white and in the US I think only about 65% of the population is white.

As for slavery, there are CURRENTLY slaves of every race throughout the world including the US where is a big problem. Various criminal organization maintain slaves in the US, Europe (especially eastern europe) and many other countries.



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 09:29 AM
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Originally posted by The Vagabond

Sometimes being a novelty gets you laid.



Colors especially. Look at the way people color their eyes (contacts), hair (dye), face (makeup), and bodies (clothes, tattoos, jewelry) to attract mates.

Hell, white people with tans are exotic up north and get extra sexy points.



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 12:31 PM
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Originally posted by Quest

Originally posted by Enrikez

Originally posted by Nygdan
"white" people are the overwhemling minority of people on the planet.

Why woudl it be 'nice'???


Er, really? Can you provide a link that says white people are the least populated peoples on the planet? I would be interested in seeing it.

Do you think that there was a time when the fairer skinned were enslaved by the more dominant darker skinned people?

I wonder now about reparations. "What you did to my ancestors for four-hundred years", could possibly be rebutted with, "Yeah? What about what your ancestors did to mine for 1,500 years?"


Er... get out more. Whites are a serious minority. China and India alone acount for 2/5ths of the world with almost no whites. Africa is huge and populous with mostly blacks and some arabs. Europe, Russia, US, and Canada are the only countries with lots of white and in the US I think only about 65% of the population is white.

As for slavery, there are CURRENTLY slaves of every race throughout the world including the US where is a big problem. Various criminal organization maintain slaves in the US, Europe (especially eastern europe) and many other countries.



Your logic is flawed. Being non-white is not a race. Therefore, you cannot clump all of the races together and say "see, white people are the minority". Try your logic on any other race, and you'll see what I am talking about.

Here are race statistics ordered in percentage by country. To find an overall number of each idividual race, you would have to cross reference this list with one in which the population of the countries are taken into account.
CIA World Race Statitstics

Being non-white, does not group Black, hispanic and chinese peoples against white peoples in a large pool. Why would you even think to group every other race together? Using your logic, there are no races that constitute more than 50% of the worlds population, therefore every race is the "overwhelming minority". You are being quite foolish, and not presenting any proof to back up your flawed logic. I'm assuming that this is because none of this information exists.

Your claims of slavery in America as a 'big problem' are also unsupported (ask me if I am surprised). As far as modern day slavery goes, yes it exists. But being a 'big problem' in the western world is pretty far fetched.

Slavery is still reported to happen in Africa, Sudan, India, Pakistan, Dominican Republic, and various sex workers around the world are considered slaves.

Although I find your definition of slavery a little bit off from what you have revealed so far, forced labour is not a race issue, and was only made into such once it reached the United States.

Most of the world involved in slavery enslave women and children, regardless of race.



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