It appears that inbreeding and interracial breeding paved the way for experts to determine what the future face of Americans would be.

Evolution is considered as one of the most exciting and widely studied topics in biology. It helped scientists trace the origins of present-day species. Aside from that, evolution also plays an essential role in attempting to determine how species will look years from now. It just so happens that enough research has been done to guess what future Americans will look like.

There are significant factors that affect the physical appearance, behavior, trait, and evolution of human beings. One common, influential factor is mating preferences. Cultural beliefs and environmental settings played significant roles in how people choose their mating partners hundreds to thousands of years ago.

In fact, this is still the case in many places today. The underlying question is: how would mating preferences help researchers determine the future look of Americans and humanity in general?

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The Mysterious Blue-Skinned People of Kentucky

Almost two centuries ago, Martin Fugate, a French immigrant, and his wife, Elizabeth Smith moved onto the banks of Troublesome Creek in Appalachian Kentucky. While no known records are indicating Fugate was ‘blue-skinned,’ it was said that from him rose an isolated group of humans known in the history of Kentucky as the blue-skinned people.

Fugate Family
Martin Fugate and family are shown in this undated, colorized black and white photo.

No, this is not a legend. The so-called blue people of Troublesome Creek were real, and they remained in isolation from the 1800s until their discovery in 1960s. When hematologists studied them, it was discovered that the clan has a rare blood condition called methemoglobinemia. This condition occurs when a recessive gene is pairing with itself to change the molecular composition of their blood. So, instead of red, the blood becomes brown and tints the skin of a person blue.

While trying to trace the origin of the mutant gene, researchers discovered that the Fugate family was involved in countless intermarriage and inbreeding between aunts and nephews, first cousins and the like for almost six generations. In fact, one of the Fugate descendants, Dennis Stacy, has the same person as his great-great-grandfather on both his father’s and mother’s side.

What does this story has to do with the future look of Americans?

The Fugate family is the best example of how intermarriages eventually led to sharing of genes. Proof that inbreeding indeed resulted in in-group physical resemblance and identification applicable not just to the Fugate clan, but to many distinct ethnic group or race around the world as well.

According to Stacy, the unrestrained inbreeding within his family is due to one reason: lack of roads.

The Future Look of Americans and the Whole Humanity Would Resemble… Brazilians?

Stephen Stearns, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University said that before the invention of bicycles, the average distance between the birthplaces of spouses in England was 1.6 kilometers. The advent of the bike in the latter half of 19th century upped the ordinary distance men went courting to 48 kilometers.

“The distance between the birthplaces of parents has continued to increase since the invention of the bicycle, making it now easy, if not standard, for parents to have been born on different continents,” Stearns was quoted as saying to the Life’s Little Mysteries.

With the passing of time, immigration, globalization, and cultural diffusion eventually homogenized the human population according to Stearn. Intermarriages became rare. And since the blue skin condition of the Fugate family was characterized by two copies of the same gene (from family members) pairing up to get expressed, the blue-skinned people slowly ‘disappeared’ while the brown-skinned emerge.

Aside from the blue skin trait, another recessive trait, blue eyes, was observed by researchers to have grown less common. Over a century ago, it was recorded that more than half of the U.S. white population were blue-eyed. Now, epidemiologists Mark Grant and Diane Lauderdale noted that out of 6 non-Hispanic white Americans, only 1 has blue eyes.

In a story from Live Science, Lauderdale was quoted as saying:

“The only explanation for the observed pattern that was consistent with the data (that we could think of) was that assortative mating had changed. This was consistent with a birth year-related increase in the proportions of individuals who listed more than one ancestry in the 1980 census.”

The researchers said that blue eyes won’t disappear entirely. Instead, it will stabilize at low level together with other recessive traits, John McDonald from the University of Delaware explained.

“Because most immigrants to the U.S. are from Asia, Africa or Latin America, any trait that is more common in northern Europeans than in the rest of the world will get less common over the near future in the U.S. due to immigration. Examples would include red and blond hair, blue eyes, and freckles. Traits that are recessive and are more common in some groups than others will decrease due to blending; blue eyes, sickle cell anemia, and cystic fibrosis are examples of this.”

McDonald went on to say that blending will make people look more similar with the passing of time. This is because multiple genes now control most traits that usually distinguish different races and ethnic groups, making dominant/recessive patterns irrelevant.

While there is no straightforward way to predict how gene blending could alter the physical appearances of people, McDonald anticipates that on average, the future look of Americans would involve slightly dark skin and hair color, with fewer people sporting ‘darker’ or ‘paler’ complexions and hair.

This genetic mixing is not only happening in the United States. It is happening around the world. Stearns believes that the long-term mixing of Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans would serve as an archetype for the future of humanity. He claims that centuries from now, all of us, not just Americans, will look like Brazilians.

Do you agree with Stearns and McDonald about what the future look of Americans and the rest of humankind would be? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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