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The Biology of Skin Color

19 minutes

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Human ancestors in Africa likely had dark skin, which is produced by an abundance of the pigment eumelanin in skin cells. In the high ultraviolet (UV) environment of sub-Saharan Africa, darker skin offers protection from the damaging effects of UV radiation. Dr. Jablonski explains that the variation in skin color that evolved since human ancestors migrated out of Africa can be explained by the tradeoff between protection from UV and the need for some UV absorption for the production of vitamin D.

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Runtime: 19 minutes

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