Case Study 1: The Island of the Colorblind
Achromatopsia is an extremely rare mutation that results in having a limited ability in seeing the range of color. The trait is only physically expressed when an individual received this recessive trait from both parents. It is estimated that only in around 1 in 30,000 people worldwide have this condition… except on Pingelap Island where the trait can be found in about 10% of the total population, which is really high from a genetic point of view!
Why? How could we explain this evolutionarily?
Two factors to consider:
Devastating typhoon in 1775 that resulted in just 20 survivors
(1822-70) King Nanmwarki Mwanenihsed was a carrier
A few more details on the distribution of the gene:
The achromatopsia disorder did not appear until the fourth generation after the typhoon, by which time 2.70% of the Pingelapese were affected. Since achromatopsia is a recessive disorder, inbreeding between the descendants of Nahnmwarki Mwanenised would result in an increased recessive allele frequency. By generation six, the incidence rose to approximately 4.92% because of the reduction in gene diversity.
Instructions: In a paragraph, explain why so many people in Pingelap have achromatopsia.
HINT: Consider the forces of natural selection at work here, such genetic bottlenecks, gene flow, genetic drift, etc.
Case Study 2: Skin Color
Human beings have wondrously colorful and sweaty skin! Anthropology has shown that first, Race is not a biological truth, and second, that racial categories cannot be defined by skin color. Anthropologists have looked to Darwin to explain why there is a lot of variation or diversity in skin tone.
Question: In at least one paragraph (can be longer) discuss what anthropologists discovered about our evolutionary history and our sweaty, colorful skin. What is the specific evolutionary reason why skin color varies between populations?
Your response must include data from the article, Skin Deep: ?Reading Schedule
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