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Skin colour distributions

  1. May 7, 2016 #1
    I see 2 commonly quoted maps for distribution of native human skin colour.
    Both are old; they have a lot of odd divergences - as well as many matching features, some of which are hard to explain.
    One is Biasutti, 1940:
    Another is Gerland, 1896:

    Which of these is reliable? Is there any newer map considered more trustworthy?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2016 #2


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    With populations which are now highly mobile due to a number of factors, it's a bit dated, IMO, to assign some arbitrary geographical distribution of native human skin color, whatever is meant by that.

    How has the world changed between 1896, 1940, and 2016? Any significant historical or political events which might have shaken up the "snow globe" over that period of time?
  4. May 7, 2016 #3
    Both the 1896 and 1940 maps expressly aimed to show the native skin colour distribution. They were very much aware of migrations of people since 1492, and deliberately aimed to show the pre-1492 distribution.
    With some conspicuous differences in results.
    So which is the correct map?
  5. May 7, 2016 #4


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    That's asking a lot. Much of the globe was unexplored in 1492, and certainly the study of population demographics lay far down the scientific road.
  6. May 7, 2016 #5
    Sure. But 1896 and 1940 were studies of population demographics. Seeking to get data about native people.
  7. May 8, 2016 #6

    jim mcnamara

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    Clarification - So to that end, please tell us what are you trying to do, not how you think it should be done.
    Here is why:
    North America, for example, has been completely undone from 'nativity' (if there is such a thing) by the introduction of Western diseases and technology starting in the 1500's. And subsequent immigration. See J. Diamond 'Guns Germs, and Steel' The same is true in Australia, starting from the 1800's. Brazil, ditto. This list is long. So determining who is 'native' is not based on genetics but stories and fuzzy verbal histories and so on. This is why the approach used to approximate relative DNA for early humans(i.e., neanderthal, Denisovan, and modern humans) is considered most likely to reflect what happened.

    So getting a reasonable static picture of native human traits is a huge challenge. IMO. The really good data comes from living people and DNA. Somewhat like the services Ancestry.com and its cousins provide.
  8. May 8, 2016 #7
    One feature about which the two maps agree is that they show a wide range of native skin colours in Americas.
    The patterns, however, are quite strikingly different.
    Is the wide variability of native skin colour across Americas a real feature?
  9. May 8, 2016 #8


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    What native skin color? Are you speaking of native Americans prior to the take over by Europeans? And why?
  10. May 9, 2016 #9
    It contrasts with another feature both the maps agree on: uniform skin colour throughout Australia.
  11. May 9, 2016 #10
    I doubt that you will be able to find a modern world map of skin colour distribution.
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