Link: Why Are Europeans White?

When working on the world-building for your secondary fantasy world, here’s an interesting thought to chew on. Did you know that Northern Europeans are uniquely depigmented?

UV map“White,” of course, is a a social designation. The question really is, “Why are northern Europeans depigmented?” Here is a map of human skin tone. The natives of northern Europe are oddly light-skinned. They are paler than anyone else on earth.

Most people know that it has something to do with sunlight, UV, latitude, and vitamin D. Here is a map of solar UV at the surface taken from satellite. It matches the skin-tone map everywhere but Europe.

Read the entire article as it traces development back step by step to figure out why Northern Europe is unique in its depigmentation.

3 Responses

  1. James Davis Nicoll

    I can’t help but notice the map of human pigmentation used in that article is based on data from before 1940. How much trust should we place in researchers of that era to have dispassionately measured human characteristics?

  2. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

    David: The original article was from 2002, which I should have noticed.

    James: If you go to the longer peer-reviewed article that’s linked to at the bottom of the article, he deals with that as well as providing several corroborating sources.