Nina Jablonski


American Anthropologist, Palaeobiologist and Professor of Anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University known for her research into the evolution of skin color in humans

Author Quotes

Skin pigmentation is an evolutionary compromise.

Take your skin color, and celebrate it.

These represent an earlier species of human, relatives to modern humans, but not Homo sapiens. There's some controversy over what this species is called. Most would call it an advanced form of Homo erectus. They looked like people and were a fairly sophisticated culture with various stone tools and lived in the same environment as humans.

We do have an awareness of ourselves that allows us to engage in willful decoration that other animals do not engage in. These dramatically change our appearance and how we are perceived. You can put on a particular set of clothes and make-up or body paint and have a completely different perception. We can make ourselves appear more sexually appealing to members of a particular group, or more threatening. At football games, people wear all sorts of face paint because they want to look fierce and war-like. These are very specific visual signals that are meant to get particular responses. These things have real evolutionary value. There?s an advantage to being good at putting on make-up and sending the correct signal. You don?t have to look very far. Open up any women?s magazine and you?ll see tips on applying make-up. But all those tips are geared to creating a particular appearance that we know from evolutionary biology makes one appear more sexually attractive. All the ways of decorating skin make statements that impact how people treat you. Knowing how to decorate can even make one more successful at attracting certain groups of friends.

We know today if you go to western and central Africa that humans and chimps live in similar and neighboring environments. This is the first evidence in the fossil record that they coexisted in the same place in the past.

We know two things. First, chimps were once more widely distributed. And second, these environments have changed dramatically in the last half million years. The chimps and all the other forest loving animals that lived with them became extinct, locally, because of this change.

What we are facing is a time when genomic knowledge widens and gene engineering will be possible and widespread. We must constantly monitor how this information on human gene diversity is used and interpreted. Any belief system that seeks to separate people on the basis of genetic endowment or different physical or intellectual features is simply inadmissible in human society

But on the chimpanzee side we've had nothing.

I would like to be able to expunge the word race from our vocabulary, but I don?t have the power to do that. It has no biological basis. Lots of scientists have shown that. As a social concept it continues to be invented and reinvented. People seem to want to keep it going. I am just trying to shed light on the fallacy of the biological concept and the idiocy of social concept. We can change the world if we can change these definitions and expunge these concepts from our interactions.

Our species is defined by regular admixture of peoples and ideas over millennia. To come up with new reasons for segregating people is hideous

Skin color is the most visible product of evolution?use it as a teaching tool.

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American Anthropologist, Palaeobiologist and Professor of Anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University known for her research into the evolution of skin color in humans