ADVERTISEMENT

Why Middle Eastern, North African populations are not dark-skinned

Skin colour diversity across human populations is a fascinating aspect of our genetic heritage and adaptation to environmental conditions. The common assumption that direct and prolonged exposure to sunlight, prevalent in desert regions, would naturally result in darker skin tones does not always hold true, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This article explores why people living in these regions, despite experiencing intense sunlight, often have lighter skin compared to populations in other sunny areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite experiencing intense sunlight, people in desert countries often have lighter skin compared to populations in other sunny areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa.

The key to understanding skin colour variations lies in the genetic history and migrations of human populations. The indigenous people of the MENA region are primarily descended from populations that migrated out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago, settling in areas that now comprise modern-day Egypt, Morocco, Iran, and beyond. Over millennia, these populations have mixed with migrants from Europe, Asia, and other parts of Africa, creating a genetic mosaic that influences a wide variety of physical traits, including skin colour.

ADVERTISEMENT

One evolutionary theory that explains variations in skin colour relates to the body's need for Vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and immune function, and human skin synthesizes this vitamin in response to UV radiation from sunlight. In extremely sunny environments, like those found in the Middle East and North Africa, having too much melanin (which darkens the skin) can actually inhibit the body’s ability to produce sufficient Vitamin D. Consequently, natural selection over generations may have favoured lighter skin in these regions to enhance Vitamin D synthesis.

Cultural habits and lifestyle choices also play a significant role in the skin colour of different populations. In many parts of the Middle East and North Africa, historical and cultural norms have often dictated more covered attire and indoor living. Such practices minimise direct exposure to sunlight, thereby reducing the need for protective melanin and influencing the skin colour observed in these populations.

ADVERTISEMENT

The geographical diversity of the MENA region, which includes mountainous areas, coastal zones, and arid deserts, also contributes to varying levels of sunlight exposure among different communities. For example, populations living at higher altitudes or in more temperate coastal areas receive different UV radiation levels compared to those in arid, sun-drenched desert locales. This variation can affect melanin production and skin colour over time.

Adaptation to environmental conditions extends beyond sunlight exposure. In desert climates, where water is often scarce and conditions can be harsh, having lighter skin might have conferred other advantages unrelated to UV radiation. For instance, lighter skin sweats more efficiently, which can help with body temperature regulation and prevent water loss in hot, arid environments.

The reasons behind the varied skin tones of people living in the Middle East, North Africa, and other desert countries are complex and multifaceted. These variations are influenced by a combination of genetic factors, evolutionary adaptations to environment-specific needs, cultural practices, and historical migrations. Understanding these factors provides a clearer picture of how human populations adapt to their environments and how our physical traits are shaped by both our biology and our history.

ADVERTISEMENT

This insight into the determinants of skin colour not only enriches our understanding of human diversity but also underscores the intricate interplay between genetics, environment, and culture. As we continue to explore the genetic underpinnings and evolutionary backgrounds of different populations, we gain valuable perspectives on the shared and unique aspects of the human experience.

This content is generated by an AI model and verified by the writer

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.
ADVERTISEMENT

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng

Recommended articles

7 foods to avoid during menopause

7 foods to avoid during menopause

9 ways to deal with a petty boss in a professional way

9 ways to deal with a petty boss in a professional way

4 mistakes you should never make when attending a Ghanaian funeral

4 mistakes you should never make when attending a Ghanaian funeral

Good Mama detergent concludes fashion show, rewards customers with cash prizes

Good Mama detergent concludes fashion show, rewards customers with cash prizes

Famous airline introduces special facilities for women — the first in aviation history

Famous airline introduces special facilities for women — the first in aviation history

Why you must have a jar of flour next time you go to the beach

Why you must have a jar of flour next time you go to the beach

Why do brides wear white on their wedding day?

Why do brides wear white on their wedding day?

5 amazing things you didn’t know your body parts can do

5 amazing things you didn’t know your body parts can do

Why you should not use vaginal whitening creams

Why you should not use vaginal whitening creams

The best zodiac signs ranked - find out if you have a great personality

The best zodiac signs ranked - find out if you have a great personality

Inhaling balloon gas among youth: Dangers and consequences

Inhaling balloon gas among youth: Dangers and consequences

These 5 ingredients make Nigerian cakes sweeter than others

These 5 ingredients make Nigerian cakes sweeter than others

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT