Why Does Skin Come in Different Colors?

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com. 

One of the things that makes people so special is that we’re all different. Each person you meet has their own special talents, their own favorite food, and a different face looking back at them in the mirror. So why do people have different-colored skin? The answer goes back to your ancestors (AN-sess-ters). That means your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, and all your relatives all the way back through history. A lot of the way you look comes from your ancestors. 

Your body is made of very small parts called cells. One kind of cell is a melanocyte (mell-ANN-o-site). Melanocytes make a chemical called melanin (MELL-uh-nin) that decides what color your skin will be. If you have a lot of melanin in your skin, your skin will be very dark. If you only have a little, your skin will be very light. How much melanin you have is like having brown eyes or being tall: You get it from your ancestors. The color of their skin depends on where they came from. Some families are all from one place, and others are from a mix of places.   

The equator (ee-KWAY-ter) is an invisible line that wraps around Earth like a belt. Countries on the equator get more sunlight than countries near the North and South Poles. If you’ve ever gotten a sunburn, you know that too much sunlight can be dangerous. Melanin and dark skin are a way of protecting a person’s body from getting too much sunlight. So people whose families come from countries near the equator often have dark skin, while people with ancestors from farther north or south usually have light skin. There are many different skin colors in the world. We may all look different, but we're all the same on the inside.  

To learn more about melanin, check out this article from Wonderopolis.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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The Little News Ears Podcast Helps Keep Kids Informed Without Overwhelming Them

Little News Ears translates current events into kid-friendly terms so parents don't have to.
Little News Ears translates current events into kid-friendly terms so parents don't have to.
Ranta Images/iStock via Getty Images

Kids are often curious about things they overhear on television or in conversations around them, but trying to translate that information into a kid-friendly format isn’t always easy. That’s where Little News Ears can help.

The program, available both as a podcast and as a YouTube video series, explains intriguing news stories to children in a simple, upbeat, and often funny way. In it, a young boy named Bram, a futuristic dog-like being named BoxerBlu, and a loris named Otis cover everything from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step away from their royal duties to people mudlarking (hunting for treasure) along the River Thames. More serious topics, like the deaths of high-profile people, are presented “in the vein of Fred Rogers teaching children about the Kennedy assassination,” as the website explains.

Little News Ears was created by Dan Buck, a former primary school teacher who now serves as the Head of School at Tessa International School in Hoboken, New Jersey. While the focus of the series itself is to express the news in ways that preschoolers and elementary school students can understand without frightening or overwhelming them, the website also includes lesson plans, vocabulary lists, and other resources to help parents and teachers learn how best to educate children on current events.

Usually, Little News Ears is offered as a subscription service—$6 per month or $55 for an entire year—but Buck and his team have made the program, along with the supplemental materials for educators, completely free for as long as the coronavirus pandemic lasts. You can learn more about the site and sign up for free access here.