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View Full Version : Are native Americans darker toward the equator?


Ludovic
04-07-2009, 07:21 PM
I know that Indians migrated here in waves, but I was wondering if the ones that live closer to the tropics and still contain nearly completely directly Bering-Strait-descended blood tend to be darker than the ones toward the Arctic? This would obviously speak to the ability of evolution to work to change humans outward characteristics on the scale of thousands or tens of thousands of years.

(Of course, the Arctic folk have adaptations of their own, some mentioned in a Cecil article I won't search for cause it's not the main subject of the OP, but I don't know their relative skin shade.)

(And of course the different migrations come from different genetic stock and so could have started off a different shade.)

Colibri
04-07-2009, 11:10 PM
I know that Indians migrated here in waves, but I was wondering if the ones that live closer to the tropics and still contain nearly completely directly Bering-Strait-descended blood tend to be darker than the ones toward the Arctic?

Yes, there is a gradient of skin color among the natives of the Americas. However, it does not follow that those closer to the tropics "contain nearly directly Bering-Strait descended blood." The darker tones near the Equator are the result of selection after migration - the original migrants, having come from Siberia, were probably relatively pale.


Human skin color distribution. (http://anthro.palomar.edu/adapt/images/map_of_skin_color_distribution.gif)

Northern:

Aleut (http://student.britannica.com/elementary/art-87048/A-young-girl-is-one-of-the-Aleut-that-still)

Inuit (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8a/Inuit-Kleidung_1.jpg)

Equatorial:

Embera, Panama (http://www.photoquarry.net/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/Embera_Village_NG.jpg)

Kuna, Panama (http://www.lightscapephoto.com/images/KunaWoman&BeachTN2.jpg)

foolsguinea
04-08-2009, 12:15 AM
The difference there could just about be due to tanning from greater sun exposure.

Polycarp
04-08-2009, 08:19 AM
The difference there could just about be due to tanning from greater sun exposure.

Not really. I bit my tongue on a couple of less-than-irenic comments, but consider the following: A family from Trondheim and a family from Palermo, both from longstanding lineages 'native' to the respective areas, both move to St. Vincent in the West Indies. They dress pretty much alike and spend equal times on the beach and in similar sports. Both families are 'white' in the typical broad-racial-group classification. But one is intrinsically darker than the other from genetic inheritance. (It would be even more obvious with a family from Mumbai, as thoroughly Caucasian as either of the others and darker of complexion than many pure-blooded Sub-Saharan Africans.)

The same holds true in the Americas, ceteris paribus, beyond the tanning effects of sun. I know a pureblooded Eastern Sioux gentleman, a Marine Corps veteran, who is significantly fairer of complexion than his son's best friend, who is of Scottish and English ancestry but happens to have drawn darker-skin genes from his parents in the genetic lottery. On the other hand, Colibri probably deals daily with people with a wide range of skin tones -- and the ones with high Native American ancestry, given where he lives, are probably among the darkest.

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