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The international biological program/human adaptability studies among the Skolt Sami in Finland (1966-1970).
Int J Circumpolar Health. 2012;71:1-5
Publication Type
Henrik Forsius
Aldur W Eriksson
Johan Fellman
Author Affiliation
Department of Genetic Epidemiology, Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics, Helsinki, Finland.
Int J Circumpolar Health. 2012;71:1-5
Publication Type
Adaptation, Biological - physiology
Aged, 80 and over
Child, Preschool
Eye Color - physiology
Fundus Oculi
Hair Color - physiology
Infant, Newborn
Middle Aged
Population Groups
Skin Pigmentation - physiology
Young Adult
The population is increasingly lighter pigmented moving in a northward direction in Europe until reaching the Arctic Circle, where the Samis (Lapps) are clearly more pigmented.
In 1966-1970, we investigated a total of 689 subjects in the villages of Sevettijärvi and Nellim, including persons with mixed Sami and Finnish heritage; of these, 487 (242 males, 245 females) had both parents classified as Skolt Sami. For estimation of the colour of the iris and hair, international scales were used. For translucency of the iris, pigmentation of the fundus was estimated in 3 different shades. The length and type of eyelashes were classified into 3 categories. To our knowledge, a simultaneous study of the pigmentation of eyebrows, eyelashes and eye fundus at different ages has not previously been published.
The age differences of iris colour were highly significant. Iris colour in children varied markedly, and they generally had lighter colours than later in life. Age and sex effects on the translucency of irises were found. Male irises were more translucent. Fundus pigmentation was scanty in the youngest age groups, with full pigmentation being reached at 20 years. Among young individuals hair colour darkens with increasing age. Eyebrow colour was slightly lighter for both sexes in the youngest age groups that in older cohorts. Women had longer eyelashes than males.
The main factor of the lighter skin is a higher ability to synthesize vitamin D, providing superior protection against rickets. The Skolt Samis are more pigmented than other Nordic people. In earlier times they had problems with rickets but our studies did not show any essential symptoms of rickets today. Visual acuity among Skolt Samis was good. They had lower prevalence of myopia compared to Finns. The stronger pigmentation of Skolt Samis is probably due to their origin from darker Eastern populations. Since our investigations were made, the Skolt Samis have been to a great part mixed with neighbouring populations and scattered throughout Finland. Even their old language is nowadays used mainly for traditional purposes. Therefore similar studies could not be performed anymore.
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PubMed ID
22564462 View in PubMed
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