Skin: A Natural History

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University of California Press, Oct 5, 2006 - Health & Fitness - 266 pages
We expose it, cover it, paint it, tattoo it, scar it, and pierce it. Our intimate connection with the world, skin protects us while advertising our health, our identity, and our individuality. This dazzling synthetic overview, written with a poetic touch and taking many intriguing side excursions, is a complete guidebook to the pliable covering that makes us who we are. Skin: A Natural History celebrates the evolution of three unique attributes of human skin: its naked sweatiness, its distinctive sepia rainbow of colors, and its remarkable range of decorations. Jablonski begins with a look at skin's structure and functions and then tours its three-hundred-million-year evolution, delving into such topics as the importance of touch and how the skin reflects and affects emotions. She examines the modern human obsession with age-related changes in skin, especially wrinkles. She then turns to skin as a canvas for self-expression, exploring our use of cosmetics, body paint, tattooing, and scarification. Skin: A Natural History places the rich cultural canvas of skin within its broader biological context for the first time, and the result is a tremendously engaging look at ourselves.

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Skin: a natural history

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The most elementary anatomy or biology presentation teaches that skin is the body's largest organ. Drawing on this fact, Jablonski (anthropology, Pennsylvania State Univ.; ed.,The First Americans: The ... Read full review


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Page 226 - Changes in biologically active ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth's surface. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology. 46, 5-19.
Page 234 - Holick MF, 1988, The role of sunlight in the cutaneous production of vitamin D3 Ann, Rev.
Page 222 - Photosynthesis of vitamin D in the skin: Effect of environmental and life-style variables.
Page 220 - WB 2003 Ecologic studies of solar UV-B radiation and cancer mortality rates.

About the author (2006)

Nina G. Jablonski is Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University. She edited The First Americans: The Pleistocene Colonization of the New World and The Origin and Diversification of Language (both UC Press), among other books. Her research on human skin has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, and other publications.

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