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2017-10-12. Genes for Skin Color Rebut Dated Notions of Race, Researchers Say.

posted Oct 13, 2017, 5:22 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Oct 13, 2017, 5:22 AM ]
By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: For centuries, skin color has held powerful social meaning — a defining characteristic of race, and a starting point for racism. “If you ask somebody on the street, ‘What are the main differences between races?,’ they’re going to say skin color,” said Sarah A. Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania. On Thursday, Dr. Tishkoff and her colleagues showed this to be a profound error. In the journal Science, the researchers published the first large-scale study of the genetics of skin color in Africans. The researchers pinpointed eight genetic variants in four narrow regions of the human genome that strongly influence pigmentation — some making skin darker, and others making it lighter. These genes are shared across the globe, it turns out; one of them, for example, lightens skin in both Europeans and hunter-gatherers in Botswana. The gene variants were present in humanity’s distant ancestors, even before our species evolved in Africa 300,000 years ago. The widespread distribution of these genes and their persistence over millenniums show that the old color lines are essentially meaningless, the scientists said. The research “dispels a biological concept of race,” Dr. Tishkoff said.... https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/science/skin-color-race.html