This conversation was led by Nina Jablonski, Evan Pugh University Professor of Anthropology at The Pennsylvania State University. Human skin color is an adaptive trait related to the intensity of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) on the earth’s surface. In the last 20 years, understanding of the trait has improved significantly, with great strides made in understanding its genetic basis and functions. Because of the importance of skin color in human health and, historically, in defining human races, we have also made strides in talking about it and educating the public, through formal and informal methods. In this discussion, we surveyed the state of knowledge about the evolution of human skin color and talk about how we can educate constructively about the trait and its meanings to all audiences.
- Quillen et al. 2018, “Shades of complexity: New perspectives on the evolution and genetic architecture of human skin“
- Jablonski and Chaplin 2010, “Human skin pigmentation as an adaptation to UV radiation“