Monday, February 2, 2009

Color, Race, and the Family Tree

An interesting segment aired on NPR just today which brings together genealogy, our notions of race, skin color, genetics and evolution:

To begin, please point your elbow to the ceiling.

Then imagine yourself naked.

Then look at the patch of skin on the inside of your upper arm, the part of you that almost never sees the sun.

Whatever color you see there is what experts call your basic skin color, according to professor Nina Jablonski, head of the Penn State Department of Anthropology.

And that color, the one you have now, says Jablonski, is very probably not the color your ancient ancestors had — even if you think your family has been the same color for a long, long time.

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