Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

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Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

Postby Nikki Nyx » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:19 am

A DNA sample from a 10,000-year-old skeleton discovered in Gough Cave near Cheddar Gorge, England, offers a remarkable revelation: the first modern British people had “dark brown to black skin.” According to recent analysis, they also had dark curly hair and blue eyes. In other words, whiteness in Europe is a much newer thing than we thought.

The so-called Cheddar Man was a hunter-gatherer during the Mesolithic period, which ended just before the appearance of agriculture. While Britain was populated and abandoned by humans during earlier periods, archaeologists think that humans lived on the island continuously from Cheddar Man’s time through to present day. This is part of what makes the details about his appearance so meaningful. Cheddar Man’s genome shows that Europeans didn’t develop pale skin until a few thousand years ago, rather than tens of thousands of years ago when humans first migrated west onto the European continent.
Full article here.
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Re: Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

Postby Gord » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:28 am

"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
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Re: Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

Postby Matthew Ellard » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:46 am

Now for some 1970's anthropological theory, that I was taught at uni.

People in Africa evolved Sickle Cell anaemia. The red blood cell is sickle shaped and much harder for Malaria to reproduce from. There is no Malaria in North Europe and dark skinned people suffer vitamin D deficiency as their skin produces less vitamin D from sunlight.

That suggests to me there is an evolutionary mechanism concerning North Europe.

Perhaps that did only take 8,000 years as indicated by the article. It's seems very plausible.
:D

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Re: Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

Postby Major Malfunction » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:09 pm

There are a lot of factors at play. I'm just talking off the top of my head from things I've read over the years that kind of make sense, trying to build a general model I can grasp, so by no means consider this gospel...

Black skin is protection against UV-induced cancer. But in a high sun zone, hot, not wearing much clothes, plenty enough gets through to manufacture Vitamin D. Also, you can get vitamin D from meat.

So when hunter-gatherers lived in Europe it wasn't a big deal. They wore lots of clothes against the cold, but they were still getting enough vitamin D through their diet. Then about that time they start turning more agrarian. So less vitamin D.

That's when things started to change. Vitamin D deficiency doesn't only cause weak bones in adults, it means babies don't develop bones properly and aren't born. That alone is a strong selection pressure for fairer skin. The fairer-skinned females had more and stronger babies.

Skin cancer isn't a strong selection pressure, as it usually only manifests in later years, after the reproductive phase, and Mother Nature doesn't give a {!#%@} about you after you've reproduced. And Europeans were mostly covered up with clothes, so that wasn't really an issue. Dark skin worked for millions of years, so why would it need to change?

Then I read a paper that suggests folic acid, which is found in fruits and dark leafy vegetables, and essential for nervous system development, is degraded by too much UV.

So now you have a hypothetical European agrarian tribe, not getting much sunlight, wearing clothes, subsisting on mostly grain.

Not much vitamin D or folate. You need UV to make vitamin D, but UV denatures folate and you don't have much to spare. What do you do?

Well, with light skin, you can get enough vitamin D with only 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight on your face and forearms. And since the rest of you is covered up most of the time, you can conserve the little folate resources you have.

And the same applies to dark skin. You want enough UV to produce vitamin D, but not so much to denature the folate!

So it's a balance between the two. Mostly driven by agriculture.
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Re: Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

Postby Poodle » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:56 am

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg ... publicity/

Well - that didn't last very long, did it?

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Re: Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

Postby Gord » Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:47 pm

Poodle wrote:https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23731673-200-does-cheddar-man-show-there-is-such-a-thing-as-bad-publicity/

Well - that didn't last very long, did it?

Told ya! (Or probably not.)

The problem, as usual, is that they made specific claims that "the young man would have had a darker complexion than previously thought" rather than may have had. The people working in the field know (or ought to know) that new evidence is constantly turning up, and that especially in the field of genetics the conclusions of today may not hold tomorrow.
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"Imagine an ennobling of what could be" -- the New Age BS Generator site
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Re: Cheddar Man reveals that white skin is a recent development.

Postby Major Malfunction » Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:51 pm

OK, let me summarise...

When a pregnant woman doesn't get enough vitamin D, which can either be synthesised by exposure to UV, or eating meat, the baby won't be born.

Also, if the pregnant woman doesn't eat enough folate from fruits, or if she is exposed to too much UV, the baby won't be born.

It's a balancing act.

And with the advent of agriculture, a mainly grain subsistence diet and wearing clothes against the cold in the higher latitudes, with little vitamin D or folate, the next easiest variable is melanin.

Like I said... That's what happens when you stop eating meat and fruit, and start covering your entire body, and there's hardly any sun.

We turn a paler shade and want to paint doors.
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