Monday, October 22, 2012

How European colors evolved

Anthropologist Peter Frost argues:
White European skin evolved relatively fast during the last ice age, specifically from 19,000 to 11,000 years ago. This was also probably the same time frame for the evolution of European hair and eye colors. Anyway, that’s my bet.

These color traits — white skin and a diverse palette of hair and eye colors — are not adaptations to a cooler, less sunny climate. They are adaptations by early European women to intense mate competition, specifically a shortage of potential mates due to a low polygyny rate and a high death rate among young men.

This situation was created by the steppe-tundra that covered most of Europe as late as 10,000 years ago. Early Europeans were able to colonize this environment but only at the price of a severe imbalance between men and women on the mate market.
This sounds improbable, but he has some good arguments for it, and he shows that competing theories have been shot down.

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