Humans of all skin colors share the same pigmentation gene, a new study shows.
The study, published Thursday in the journal Science by University of Pennsylvania geneticist Sarah A. Tishkoff, shows long-held links between race and skin color to be unfounded.
Tiskkoff and her colleagues identified eight genetic variants responsible for lightening or darkening skin tone, finding them to be shared across the globe. The gene variant responsible for lightening skin tone of Africans is the same at work in Europeans' gene codes, the study found.
The same genetic system has also been pinpointed in human ancestor species, up to 300,000 years old.
This discovery goes a long way toward combating traditional notions of skin tone differences determining racial distinction.
"If you ask somebody on the street, 'What are the main differences between races?,' they're going to say skin color," said Tishkoff.
But the study, with the genes widespread distribution and multi millennium continuation, shows the color distinction to be only skin-deep.
The research "dispels a biological concept of race," said Dr. Tishkoff.