All instances of a gene mutation that contributes to light skin color in Europeans came from the same chromosome of one person who most likely lived at least 10,000 years ago, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.
An interesting article on how the genes for light skin tone may have originated.
All the different skin colors are relatively recent developments. Anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa 200,000 or more years ago, where we were all black. 60,000-90,000 years ago, a small population migrated out of Africa, whose descendants went on the settle the rest of the world.
Your skin tone is most likely a factor of where your ancestors lived over the last 10,000-90,000 years. Lighter skin tone in higher latitudes and darker in lower latitudes.
Lower latitudes get hit with more direct sunlight, and darker skin is better at protecting against skin cancer, but not as good at vitamin D production. Higher latitudes get less direct sunlight, and lighter skin is better at vitamin D production.
At least that’s the prevailing theory as I understand it. I suspect how much of your body is covered in those latitudes, due to variations in temperature, is a factor as well.
But northern European skin is particularly light and susceptible to skin cancer. I find the idea that it arose from a single person as little as 10,000 years ago fascinating.
- Understanding of human skin color variation improved by genetic study on South Asians (drcurtsamlaska.wordpress.com)
- Righteous Consciousness’ (streetcornerprophet.com)
- New Genetic Study on Skin-Color Gene Confirms Aryan Ancestry in Upper Caste Indians (jewishterrorism.com)
- Decoding indian gene (pparihar.com)