Human Skin Color

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Human Skin Color Variations

Grantham University


There is a tremendous range of human skin color in which variation can be correlated with climates, continents, and/or cultures, yet we know very little about the underlying genetic architecture. Human skin color can range from almost black to nearly colorless (appearing pinkish white due to the blood in the skin) in different people. Skin color is determined by the amount and type of melanin, the pigment in the skin. On average, males have darker skin tones than females.

In general, people with ancestors from tropical regions (hence greater sunlight exposure) have darker skin than people with ancestors from subtropical regions. However, this is complicated by the fact that there are people with ancestors from both sunny and less sunny regions, and whose complexion may have any shade of the spectrum of possible tones. Sexual selection also plays a role.

I chose the topic of skin color due to my military travels and people I have met along the way. The wide spectrum of skin tones and colors I have been exposed to along the way intrigued me. Having traced my own root back to Madagascar, Africa, I found that although I am of African descent, the people of Madagascar aren’t stereotypical Africans. For the most part, their skin tone was not as dark as I thought would have been. Their hair mostly curly and not as kinky as I thought it would be.


My thoughts of Africans were that they had very dark skin. Interestingly, however, human skin color in southern Africa is not uniform. Africa is an environmentally heterogeneous continent. A number of the earliest movements of contemporary humans outside equatorial Africa were into southern Africa. The descendants of some of these early colonizers, the Khoisan, are still found in southern Africa...
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