Repost from the old blog. Explains why people in hot climates evolved melanin protection of their skin. Guess what? It’s not so they won’t get sunburned.
If they hardly have any Negrito genes, that is. If so, what explains their dark skin?
From a question in the comments on the old blog.
I’ve been over this on the blog before, but since hardly anyone knows about this stuff, we may as well go over it again. The commenter asks, if Filipinos only have .02-.11% Negrito genes (and only in certain tribes that have been tested), why are Filipinos so dark?
The suggestion here is the common popular anthropological notion that Filipinos are part Negrito. The truth is that Filipinos have few Negrito genes, but Negritos have lots of Filipino genes. That is because the Filipinos simply swamped the Negritos genetically.
Various Filipino tribes have been surveyed and the Negrito percentage is given at .02-.11%. I am not sure if that means that the average Filipino or tribal has that much Negrito genes, or if that many Filipinos have Negrito genes. It is often difficult to tell with these studies. Filipinos are no darker than Lao, Thai, Khmer, many Southern Chinese groups and types, and Indonesians.
All of the Austronesians are dark. The Austronesians are the Filipinos (mostly Austronesian), the Indonesians (20% Austronesian), the coastal New Guineans (25% Austronesian), the Polynesians (50% Austronesian) and the Micronesians (35% Austronesian). Also Malays appear to have some unknown Austronesian element. There is also some Austronesian in the Vietnamese and the Khmer. All of these are in whole or in part Austronesians.
One of the biggest lies around is that all of these SE Asian groups are part Australoid. In particular, Chinese are very fond of this notion. It is true that many Indonesians are partly Australoid of unknown origin, probably Papuan. The Indonesians closer to the Philippines and Malaysia are much more Austronesian. Getting towards New Guinea, we see a lot more Melanesian introgression.
In the case of the Filipinos, the big lie is that Filipinos are very heavily inbred with Negritos. This is not true, and there is no evidence of it. However, some Filipinos are part Negrito. You can recognize them because they are noticeably darker and they tend to have woolly or frizzy hair like Negritos. It was common knowledge 100 years ago that Filipinos had little Negrito in them, and most Filipinos know this to this day.
In between, somehow the notion among amateur anthropologists got started that Filipinos are heavily Negrito. The Filipino group is very closely related to the Ami aboriginals of Taiwan and the Guangdong Southern Chinese from around Hong Kong. In fact, this group is so taut that I lumped it into a race called the South China Sea Race, with those three groups included.
Filipinos are, for all intents and purposes, a Chinese (Taiwanese) people, even though they live outside of China. Some commenters have hollered about this, saying that Filipinos look nothing like Southern Chinese. Well, that may be so, but looks deceive. In genes, they are remarkably close, and nowadays we prove relation by genes.
The vast majority of Filipinos came from an outward ocean voyage by the Taiwanese Ami aborigines about 900-2,200 years ago that ended up in the Philippines. This was part of the Lapita culture. About 900 years ago, a large infusion of Southern Chinese came to the Philippines, but only 20% of Filipinos have significant Chinese genes.
Much fewer have significant amounts of Spanish genes. The Filipino mestizo is largely a myth, though Filipino politics and especially the entertainment industry is heavily populated by mestizos. Even in the Philippines, Whiter is apparently better.
Why are Filipinos so dark? The Philippines lies from 0 to 20 degrees in latitude. Let us look at the nations in at that latitude and who the indigenous people are.
In that latitude range, we find northern Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, southern Burma, South India, Sri Lanka, Oman, Yemen, far southern Arabia, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, the Guyanas, all of the Caribbean except Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, all of Central America except Mexico, Hawaii and the Mariana Islands.
If you notice, almost all of these countries are populated by indigenous people with pretty dark skin. Dark skin is selected for in hot climates because otherwise UV rays will destroy folic acid stores in the woman’s body, which will cause a lot of birth defects. There may also be a protective effect for sunburn and melanoma, but this is uncertain.
UV radiation chart along with zones of skin color. Zone 1 has the darkest skin of all. Note that the Philippines is in Zone 1. Zone 2, which includes Italians and Spaniards, has skin that tans easily. Zone 3 contains light skin that enables residents to absorb as much Vitamin D as possible from the sun due to lack of sunlight at higher latitudes.
So it’s not just latitude, but it’s also intensity of UV radiation. UV radiation is extremely intense in Africa, so Africans have some of the darkest skin of all. Pale, light or white skin is nothing special or superior. It is simply an evolutionary adaptation to low levels of sunlight. Melanin went off the skin in order to pick up as much Vitamin D as possible. Otherwise, people had Vitamin D deficiencies.
Almost all native peoples at latitudes like that have pretty dark skin. The only exception is the Vietnamese, and they have only been there for 2,200 years or so, being products of a massive movement of Southern Chinese into the area around that time. Anyway, a lot of Vietnamese are relatively dark.
So the dark skin of Filipinos is to be expected, and there is no need to postulate Negrito genetic ingression. Filipinos aren’t really that dark anyway. A lot of native peoples at that latitude are a lot darker than Filipinos.
Some Australoid genes related to Papuans have been found in Malays, Southern Chinese and coastal Vietnamese, but the numbers are very small. So really Southern Chinese need to be quiet about SE Asians being heavily Australoid. It’s not true, and they have a few of those genes anyway.
Keep in mind that the question of Negrito genes in any SE Asians is somewhat academic. After all, all of SE Asia was populated mostly by Negrito or “Melanesian” Australoid types until about 5,000 years ago or so, at which point they fully transitioned into the types that we see today.
NE Asians were also Ainu aborigine Australoid types until 9,000 years ago, when they fully completed progression into the Mongoloid types that we know today.
Negrito or “Melanesian” types were generalized throughout Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia until 2,000-3,000 years ago, when they were rapidly displaced by movements from South China. They were also generalized throughout Thailand and Malaysia until about 5,000 years ago, when they were largely replaced by movements from Taiwan and South China.
They have only survived in large numbers in the Philippines, but that is merely accidental.
So, in the background of all SE Asians is a Negrito, and in the background of all NE Asians is an aborigine Ainu type.
- Jablonski, N. and Chaplin, G. 2000. The Evolution of Human Skin Coloration. Journal of Human Evolution.