Evolution Revised January 2018
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The Biology of Skin Color
This handout supplements the short film The Biology of Skin Color.
1. True / False. Biologists classify specific forms of traits as good or bad. For example, long tails in cats could be
classified as good and short tails as bad.
2. Explain the reasoning or evidence you used to answer Question 1.
3. If you travel north from the equator, what generally happens to the intensity of ultraviolet (UV) light?
a. The intensity increases.
b. The intensity decreases.
c. The intensity stays the same.
d. It is impossible to predict.
4. Who would you expect to be most at risk for developing the bone disease rickets?
a. Children born to mothers with dark skin, living far from the equator
b. Adults with dark skin who live close to the equator
c. Children born to mothers with light skin, living close to the equator
d. Adults with light skin who live close to the equator
e. Anyone who eats a diet that includes a lot of fish
5. Explain the reasoning or evidence you used to answer Question 4.
6. When Dr. Nina Jablonski describes her discovery of the UV data collected by NASA, a headline is visible that
reads, “Ozone Depletion Raising Risk of Skin Cancer, Scientist Says.” Use this headline and your
understanding of what causes skin cancer to infer a beneficial feature of the ozone layer for humans. Why
would a depleted ozone layer increase the risk of skin cancer?
7. Ultraviolet light can cause mutations and other damage within cells, which can hurt an individual’s chance of
surviving and leaving offspring. Some molecules can protect cells from damage by UV. The amount of these
molecules is determined by genes. Within a population, some individuals make more of these UV-protection
molecules than others.