Were the first humans white?

  1. After learning that we all came from Africa I thought that the first humans where black. And that is fine, of course. But after thinking more I'm starting to think they were white. After all why would humans suddenly come into the world fully protected from the sun with dark skin? It makes more sense that their skin became dark over time because they lived in Africa. Does that make sense?
  2. jcsd
  3. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    I started to write a lengthy reply until a quick google showed that wikipedia got there first
  4. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Your mistake here is that that implies that humans materialized from nothing, suddenly popping into existence with nothing preceding them. But humans evolved from other animals and pretty much every feature we have is present in related animals and our common ancestors. In other words, skin color evolution started long before humans arose.
  5. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    I didn't even notice that this was said! [Emphasis mine]
  6. Ynsgfnsv: if the climate in Africa in the beginning of human existence was as hot and sunny as it is now, then it is in fact most likely that the first humans there would have been dark skinned. As far as Mr. Waters' comments that humans evolved from other animals, I take issue with that. On the one hand, there is scientific evidence that humans existed a looooooong time ago (dozens of thousands of years ago), but don't worry about contradicting the Bible. A day in the bible can be a year, a year can be a day, and either of the two can be either 1,000 or 10,000. Also, the Bible says that the attributes/virtues of God are spiritual: compassion, patience, love, etc etc....it does not discuss physical appearance except for words such as "radiance" and such and such. basically, there's no reason to suggest that we "appeared out of nowhere" from a biblical context. In this sense science must be our basis for understanding what is said in the Bible. Thusly we can comfortably suggest that humans, though over a hundred thousand years ago may have appeared a bit more animalistic, were ALWAYS in fact human. Neuroscience increasingly acknowledges that the "mind" cannot be proven to exist within the brain. There is suggestions of some "metaphysical" element to what makes us human. But I'm getting off topic here. The point is: if Africa was always a hot, hot sunny climate, there is really no way the first "humans" there could have been light skinned. they would have died from cancer, of starvation, or been devoured by carnivores while trying to gather food at night (or some combination of the three).

    Again: as to out friend Russ is concerned, "animals" are creatures with lack the faculty of reason. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that when humans shared physical characteristics with apes that we lacked the faculty of reason. That must be acknowledged in any discussion of evolution.
    Last edited: May 26, 2011
  7. Humans and apes (chimpanzees and gorillas ) shared a common ancestor and diverged about 5 million years ago.

  8. That's only partly true, thorium1010.

    Every single living thing on earth originates from the same essential primordial ooze. But at some point in time some combination of genetic blending resulted in a being which we now call "human." Our classification system starting with Kingdoms, Phylums, Classes, Orders and so forth does not take into account or attempt to calculate at what point a species or multiple species on Earth acquired the ability to "reason."

    What we do know is that the dolphin did not. The ape did not. The orangutan did not.

    We do not know whether it occured prior to the 5 million year ago "common ancestor" theory or more recently.

    And we also don't know what "common ancestor" even means... we have multiple different "species" of humans in the last 1 million years, each of which likely had the ability to speak as recently as 400,000 years ago (which is probably how the neanderthals and homo sapiens agreed to have sex and make babies, since we know they merged rather than one dying out)!

    So really, we have no idea what it means that the apes and the humans "diverged" from one common ancestor. How do we even know it was "one" common ancestor? Maybe there were DOZENS which had so close genetic similarity and ability to communicate that they all mingled together. Nobody knows.

    That the apes have similarities to humans could be the result of early "humans," having primitive forms of language and communication, could have taken apes for partners and "cross-polinated" -- resulting in a far more similar range of mammals.

    nevertheless the idea that humans diverged from a "common ancestor" is, again, theory at most. We do not know what that means. How many genetic groups does it take to create one common ancestor?
  9. again really, humans are a combination of subspecies which all probably merged together. We know the neanderthals and homo sapiens procreated together. It's inaccurate to say neanderthals became extinct. They merely followed the phrase: "if you can't beat em, join em."

    So how can we say that our "common ancestor" was a single species? Ridiculous assumption.
  10. Being able to interbreed is a defineing attribute of a species. Many people missuse the word species and when one gets to the nitty gritty parts of relatedness its a useless term. At one point there was a single female that was the mother of all homo sapien subspecies and reguardless of the reactions between them that was the singular common ancestor. At another point there was another female whos decendents became chimpanzees, homo sapiens, and bonobos.

    I think an idea of what of what the first hairless humanoid would look like would be can be gleaned from hairless chimpanzees. http://www.blameitonthevoices.com/2008/02/bald-chimpanzee.html Notice the mottleing of the skin and the different shades of overall skin tone. I have to wonder if Cinder tans with the seasons.
  11. Really? Care to support that - without the use of Eve in the Bible?

    So only one ancestor? Did evolution not happen to many and they adapt to conditions, effectively together?

    What you are saying there is that there was only one creature that evolved, or at least started the process.
  12. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    I think you have a misunderstanding about mitochondrial eve. You may want to read the section marked "Common fallacies" where it deals with the idea that there was just one woman.
  13. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I saw a documentary on evolution last week on Nat Geo and he said it's common belief now that humans only started appearing white about 40,000 years ago.

    I thought of this thread and said "flukey or spookey?" Jared will know what I mean.

    I'll try to find the scientist and what studies it's based off. Until then, it's just me repeating what was said.
  14. Alas, after spending far too much time here I do. :wink:
  15. Nope not a misunderstanding, just the fact that at some point the evolution of a species starts with one individual oddball. Kinda like LUCA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_universal_common_ancestor
    At some point there was most likely one single female that is responsible for humans, chimpanzees and bonobos. Then at another point there was the first human female that couldnt breed sucessfuly with the progenitor species or its other decendents, chimpanzees or bonobos. IRC the only real point I had in that was that was that the human subspecies never became truely seperate as happened with chimpanzees, they always could interbreed and probably bred each other out (along with competition). Especially the neanderthals.
  16. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    What? What could interbreed?
  17. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    This is a mistake, there was never "one female". You may be confusing the idea of mitochondrial eve.

    It is still a contested topic to what extend homo sapiens and other members of the homo genus could interbreed. Unless you have a series of references that show conclusively that what you say is true.
  18. From what I understand it makes sense that the first humans would have the same or nearly the same pigmentation as most mammals, so they would have been fair skinned. However, it is believed that our ancestors began losing hair and developing more sweat glands as an adaptation to grassland environments so it is likely that while that process was occurring pigmentation was also developing in response to higher UV radiation levels.

    Evolution does occur, I believe it's even a required course for molecular biology. Evolution does not conform to set rules, in some cases evolution can make a giant leap forward; chloroplast and mitochondria are believed now to be remnants of symbiotic bacteria. In other cases it may take millions of years for a species to evolve from it's progenitors.

    How can a reasonable person say that evolution occurs in animals but not in humans. We are animals, we are made of the same basic parts and we function in fundamentally the same way. Denial of our true history is a slap in the face to our ancestors. We are what we are now because of their struggles and triumphs. We owe them the truth regardless of whether or not it compliments our egos. "Be a better man than your father" looks like we have been following that advice for the last 3.5 billion years and if anything we should be proud of that fact.
  19. I remember reading about someone who thought the first humans had gray skin, like elephants.
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