Darwin meets NASA

With UV exposure data from the TOMS7 satellite.


Compare to the human skin color regression below…

born1945, Tomi Tapio K, and technovore faved this
  • Steve Jurvetson 5y

    Nina Jablonski

    Quotes from Nina Jablonski’s TED Talk:

    “If only Darwin lived today. If only Darwin had NASA.

    And what Darwin could not appreciate, or didn't perhaps want to appreciate at the time, is that there was a fundamental relationship between the intensity of ultraviolet radiation and skin pigmentation. And that skin pigmentation itself was a product of evolution. And so when we look at a map of skin color, and predicted skin color, as we know it today, what we see is a beautiful gradient from the darkest skin pigmentations toward the equator, and the lightest ones toward the poles.

    What's very very important here is that the earliest humans evolved in high UV environments, in equatorial Africa.

    But then we moved. And humans dispersed, not once, but twice. Major moves, outside of our equatorial homeland, from Africa, into other parts of the old world, and most recently, into the New World.

    Here we begin to see the evolution of the beautiful sepia rainbow that now characterizes all of humanity. Lightly pigmented skin evolved not just once, not just twice, but probably three times.

    Often we're unaware of the fact that we're living in environments in which our skin is inherently poorly adapted. Some of us with lightly pigmented skin live in high UV areas. Some of us with darkly pigmented skin live in low UV areas. These have tremendous consequences for our health.

    Take your skin color, and celebrate it. You have the evolution of the history of our species, part of it, written in your skin.”
  • vennettaj 5y

    'is embarrassing i have something to say again...i have hard time celebrating my colorless skin in California...wish evolution could think ahead..
  • Josh Thompson 5y

    This is a nice presentation, but what would be much more informative is to make a scatter plot of the value from one plot versus the value from the other plot, for an array of points around the world. Then you could see the functional relationship.
  • Epp 5y

    Very interesting... to see the relationship... and also how the differences in pigmentation can have a health effect on those who are in the "wrong" UV zones.

    Now I would like to know how to apply what is being learned here to those who I personally call "beautiful new people", for the lack of a better word. I personally don't like the terms usually used for them in the socio-political - and scientific? - realms. (Even if they are not exactly new - humanity has a history of rules of marrying outside the tribe as well as interesting matches made in cosmopolitan areas.)

    For example my children - part estonian, part french (royalty, which adds another interesting dimension considering their genetic history - in this case King Francois Premier, friend of Leonardo de Vinci), part german, part native canadian... and some kind of mediterranean (not sure, but genetic traits point to this).

    My new husband is another such example with french, dutch, german, jewish and native canadian genetic roots.

    Still more interesting, a friend who I am no longer in touch with - part african (I forget which part), part lebanese, part russian, part german and part norwegian.

    Sure there is a certain skin color that dominates, but strange combinations are coming up which I can't quite find in the above map. Like a kid I went to senior public school with who had very brown (african) skin, freckles and blond hair. My own daughter has darkening strawberry blond hair, freckles and olive skin which does not burn easily.

    Natural selection of an even more global kind than ever before... surely that's a new phenomenon - compared to more localized mixing in the past. I wonder what the implications of that are for evolution - present and future. There sure seem to be some extraordinary "beautiful new people" making waves in this world today.

    (And now I find myself thinking of that interesting dimension involving evolution of language... how northerners languages reflect the tightness of the throat while trying to keep warm, while people in hot lands have more guttural dimension due to relaxed throats and vocal cords - I'm not sure if there are actual anatomical differences too. How are different languages affected by certain genetic types moving to different areas... and how does the genetic mix affect the future evolution of language. Just wondering "out loud".)
  • Epp 5y

    (Sorry, I didn't realize I wrote so many words.)
  • vennettaj 5y

    Eppie, i think you nailed the issue :D
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Taken on February 5, 2009
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