UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — We inherit our skin color from our ancestors, and so it is obviously a trait that is tied to our biology and genetics. But what is it that brought about such a diversity of human skin colors? And how can knowledge about the natural history of skin inform questions surrounding societal notions of skin color and our health?
These are a few questions that form the basis for what Penn State anthropologist Nina Jablonski calls an explanatory framework of the evolution of skin pigmentation in modern human beings. It all began in the early 1990s when Jablonski began exploring gaps in the literature about the evolution of human skin and skin color.