MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: What is the scientific explanation for Asians with slanted eyes?

Date: Mon Dec 1 19:34:52 2003
Posted By: Gabriel Vargas, Assistant Adjunct Professor
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 1069088798.Ge

The following is from a website discussing climate and the human body:

and it agrees with what I learned in my undergraduate anthropology 
classes at Berkeley: 

"The eyes of the Chinese, Japanese, Eskimos, and other people of 
Mongoloid (of or pertaining to or characteristic of one of the 
traditional racial division of humankind including especially peoples of 
central and eastern Asia) descent are protected by epicanthic folds. 
These folds, composed of fatty tissue, probably evolved among their 
forebears inhabiting the Arctic in order to insulate the eye against 
freezing, and to provide an additional shield against glare from snow and 

Thus this is likely an evolutionary adaptation to the environment. Those 
with the gene for making epicanthic fold were more likely to have 
children survive (thus have higher Darwinian fitness) and 
pass along those genes.

Please see the University of Illinois at Chicago website for the course 

which includes the following references:

Bunney, S. ed The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Ev0ution. New York: 
Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Garbarino, M. and Sasso, R. Native American Heritage 3rd ed. Prospect 
Heights: Waveland Press, Inc., 1994.
Jamison, C. Bioanthropology B200: Bioanthropology. a learning guide. 
Bloomington: Indiana University Study Program, 1992.
McElroy, A. and Townsend, P. Medical Anthropology in Ecological 
Perspective 3rd ed. Boulder: Westview Press, 1996.
Mascie-Taylor, C. and Bogin, B. Human Variability and Plasticity. New 
York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Overfield, T. Biologic Variation in Health and Illness 2nd ed. Boca 
Raton: CRC Press, 1995.
Poirier, F., Stini, W., and Wreden, L. In Search of Ourselves 5th ed. 
Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1994.
Relethford, J. The Human Species 3rd ed. Mountain View: Mayfield 
Publishing Company, 1996.
Sinclair, D. Human Growth after Birth 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University 
Press, 1985.

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