China’s noted preference for paler skin has reportedly been traced back more than 15,000 years.
According to an international study, the complexion change of Han Chinese was the result of an advantageous mutation of the gene OCA2. The same mutated gene, by the way, has also been linked to various diseases. Oh, the unbearable whiteness of being.
Led by professors Su Bing and Meng Anming, a research team from China, Europe, and the US analysed genetic samples of over a thousand people, publishing their findings in the latest issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution.
It’s believed that the gene mutation occurred after the Han Chinese ancestors migrated northwards from southwest China and southeast Asia, 25,000 to 30,000 years ago. Less sunshine in the North triggered the evolution of OCA2 with those with paler skin now able to absorb more sunlight, preventing potentially debilitating deficiencies of vitamin D. Making them more fit for survival over time in their new environment.
Said gene mutation is also known to be responsible for such phenomenons as albinism, acute eye inflammation, Angelman syndrome, learning difficulties, obsessive eating, etcetera–nothing to see here.
Scientists tested the OCA2 gene mutation on mice subjects, who too underwent a glamorous bleaching transformation.
Incidentally, Europeans were found to have undergone their own skin lightening through a set of completely different genes, SLC24A5 and SLC45A2, with researchers suggesting other factors like dietary changes and sexual selection.
By Pinky Latt