Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Changing the Lamanite Skin Color – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the DNA of an individual and how it determines our physical appearance and who we are.
As discussed in the last post, DNA is a very long molecule, and is broken up into sections called chromosomes. In humans, there are 46 chromosomes, in the form of 23 pairs, and are supercoiled and wound around storage proteins called histones so the DNA can be packaged very compactly. Scientists consider that most of DNA appears to be junk—that is, the base sequences do not seem to make any sense, and cells don't seem to use them for much.
The coding sections are called exons, and a collection of exons make up a gene, which can then be read by the cell's machinery in a process called transcription. A process called translation then occurs, which as the name suggests 'translates' the sequence of DNA bases into a polypeptide chain, hence making a protein.
As has now been shown, there is only a small part of DNA that is involved in specific differences between, say, Asians and Caucasians. Things like eye shape and color, skin color and hair texture take only the tiniest fraction of DNA.
However, there are differences between people, especially in appearance. A group may all be Caucasian, but they do not look exactly alike. There are differences, noticeable differences. Even long exposure to identical twins can produce an awareness of differences in appearance. Some people have long, straight noses, others are wide, some are pug, others turned up, etc. Eyes are narrow, wide, slits, wide apart, narrow, etc. Ears are very different, as are jaws, cheekbones, hairlines, and even the shape of the head. Some of these differences seem to be racial, others regional, most ancestral. These differences, great or small, come from having slightly different DNA.
Faces can be quite different from one another in the same racial group: Caucasian Top LtoR: Fat face; narrow face; round face; square face; African-American Center LtoR: Narrow face; triangular face; square face; round face; Mexican Bottom LtoR: Square face; narrow face; round face; oblong face
As an example, a person’s DNA can make one person tall, another short; one person muscular, big boned, and hefty, another thin, wiry and long-limbed. Most characteristics, however, have little to do with whether a person is Asian or Caucasian, but more to do with differences found between any two people. What this means is that most DNA differences are not specific to any ethnic group; however, some, though minor, characteristics are indeed racial, such as skin color.
In fact, the biggest different between some races is their skin color, and there are only a couple of genes that determine the general color of a person's skin—these are the genes, containing masses of DNA, that explain why, for example, more people of African descent are darker than Europeans, or why most Asians are lighter than native Australians.
In addition, there are lots of other skin color genes that are not ethnic group specific. These are the genes that give slight shading variations between people of the same group. As an example, not all Europeans are equally pale nor all Africans equally dark.
The differences in these genes are almost certainly shared between ethnic groups. A light skinned Asian may share certain genes with a light skinned European. Meaning that for skin color, the lighter Asian may have more in common genetically with the lighter European than with a darker Asian.
But skin color isn't all there is to skin. There are a ton of other genes that tell your skin cells to look the way they do or make it possible for skin cells to do their jobs. Almost none of these are specific to any ethnic group. Everyone's skin cells need to cover their body; they form a protective barrier against diseases and other problems. This means there are many genes that tell your skin cells to have strong connecting bonds with each other so nothing can sneak in between.
Other genes tell the skin cells where to grow—obviously you wouldn't want skin cells growing in your brain or your heart, and certainly you want them on the outside of your body! And look at the skin on your arms and compare it with the skin on your face or the skin on the bottom of your feet. Genes are needed to tell your skin to be softer on your face and tougher on your feet.
If you took a random bunch of people and shook their hands, you would notice that everyone's palms are different. Some people have softer skin, some have calluses and hard skins, some have wet sweaty palms, and some have super dry skin. These are another set of genetic traits of skin that aren't dependent on what one's ethnic background is. So most of our skin differences aren't between ethnic groups. A dry-skinned darker Asian has a lot more in common with a dry-skinned darker Caucasian than with a sweaty, pale Asian, etc.
The important thing to understand is that all these genes are predicated upon what is received from the father and mother, passed on genetically, from one generation to another
Thus, the human genome is the sum total of all the genetic information contained in a human being. The information in the genome is stored as DNA, a molecule with a sugar-phosphate backbone (which keeps the shape of the characteristic DNA helix) and the bases adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The order of the four bases describes the information stored in the DNA. This is passed on from one person to another and, combined with the other marriage partner, from one generation to another.
Consequently, when the Lord changed the color of Cain’s skin, a new genome trait, or DNA encoding, took place so that when combined with that of his wife, continued to produce the dark skin Cain had been given. In this way, his DNA then was different from that of his father Adam, and mother Eve, creating a new encoded set of DNA instructions.
The same can be said for when the Lord changed the skin color of the Lamanites: “as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21).
Thus, the Lamanite skin color was changed instantly—“And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:23)—as the Lord altered the DNA coding regulating the skin color and whatever other features were involved to make the Lamanites “loathsome” unto the Nephites (2 Nephi 5:22).
In this way, the DNA of the Lamanites was forever changed, and since most of the “Indians” of the Western Hemisphere came through this line, their DNA would be slightly different from that of the Nephites and, consequently, that of the Near East from which Lehi came.

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