Albinos Not Safe After All

I mentioned in my last post that humans love rare things, but not necessarily albinos. As Justin pointed out in the comments, that is not exactly true. White-skinned albinos are hunted by other humans throughout eastern and central Africa because they believe their body parts will add potency to black magic rituals.

Pink dolphins are also at risk. Last month, an albino Bottlenose dolphin (which is actually deliciously pink) was discovered in an inland lake in Louisiana, which has become such an attraction that conservationists have warned tourists to leave it alone.


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I noticed today that I was receiving a lot of search engine queries for black and white twins. Well, I have posted on it several times, but I thought it was a bit much, so I checked the news, and lo & behold, another case just popped up. Like the Australian twins the mother here was biracial…

it looks like an aquatic Kirby...

can dolphins get sunburned?

Interesting and disturbing article about the plight of albino persons in Africa. I wonder though, wouldn't the concentration of albinos in a small island (as mentioned in the article) tend to cause a natural selection for albinoism over time, eventually leading to a nearly entirely albino population? Or does albinoism not work that way?

Albinoism is recessive, so while the gene for it would remain within a population, other dominant genes would effectively ensure that a majority of individuals subject to being albino would be impossible...

Well, for values of 'love' analogous to 'highly desire', those black magicians* do love albinos; your point is still supported.

* Sheesh, this is the 21st Century.

By John Morales (not verified) on 23 Apr 2009 #permalink

I don't know that there's necessarily no love for the albino animals of the world. Albino reptiles (specifically alligators) at least used to be big draws in second-rate tourist-traps in the southeast, albino birds seem to be generally considered quite beautiful, and albino/leucistic exotic pets are still quite popular.

By sacredwombat (not verified) on 24 Apr 2009 #permalink

Although albinism is recessive it can still become the majority phenotype in a population (e.g. lab rats). Assuming random mating, all that is required for albinos to outnumber non-albinos in a population is for the square of the frequency of albino alleles to be >50% (i.e. the albino allele frequency >71%). That is, if I have done my math right.

It comes from the formula for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium:
1 = p^2 + 2pq + q^2
if p = freq of wild type alleles
q = freq of albino alleles
then p^2 is freq of homozygous wild types (not albino)
2pq is the freq of heterozygotes (also not albino)
and q^2 is the freq of homozygous albinos (albino)

omg dis is soooo pretty;i have neva seen 1 of dis