Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Skin Color

In humans, perceived reflectance of the epidermis; skin color involves the blending of three or more chromoproteins: melanin, heme (in hemoglobin), carotene, and other porphyrins such as metmyoglobin and laminin. Skin color is a polymorphism in most species, including humans, and maintained by natural selection chiefly in response to ultraviolet radiation, but camouflage coloration maintenance in response to predator pressure is also a factor. Although heritability is significant, skin color is a multifactorial trait.

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