Lets take as examples a typical Norwegian and a typical Nigerian.

In terms of human anatonomy the outer differences are more obvious e.g. (on average)

  • White skin vs dark skin
  • Pointy nose vs broad nose
  • Thin lips vs thicker lips
  • Straight hair vs tight curly hair
  • Different skull shape
  • Height differences
  • Different colour eyes or eyelids.

In fact there is almost a difference in every external organ.

There are also some invisible differences such as propensity to sickle cell disease.

But what I hear less about is the differences (in general) between internal organs between populations. Some people even suggest that differences are only "skin deep" between human populations. Which I think goes against evolutionary theory. As why would natural selection stop at skin level? Also, there is a lot of research into skeletal differences but that's easier to do since we can look at a skeletons.

Therefor it seems fairly logical to assume that there would be fairly apparent differences in internal organs between these populations. (I hesitate to use the word 'races') i.e. as apparant as different hair types, or different nose shapes.

I don't mean that one population will have 3 kidneys for example, but I would expect that there would be an obvious shape or size difference between most, if not all internal organs, just as there is a shape, colour or size difference between most external organs.

Is there some research done on this, e.g. a catalogue of differences in internal organs morphology between different populations? Or is it taboo to even ask such questions perhaps?

Edit: One might say, "how would anyone know? Or care?" But, for example, a heart surgeon might find they need different sized instruments dealing with different people. Or surgeons from different continents might compare notes on anatomy. And anatomy textbooks based on just one population might not be representative. Surgeries working on one "race" might not work on others. e.g. if the heart wall was thinner or the colon was longer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why was this downvoted? Is it a taboo subject? I thought it might be. Pity societal pressure gets in the way of science. $\endgroup$
    – zooby
    Feb 19, 2020 at 5:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't know about organ sizes, but it is known that certain population are more prone to develop certain diseases than others. One famous example I'm aware of are the Pima, who developed a very efficient metabolism in response to the available food in their traditional environment. However, this efficient metabolism in combination with nowadays western diet makes them prone to overweight and related diseases like type two diabetes. There is research in that field, but it's far from being complete. $\endgroup$
    – Arsak
    Feb 19, 2020 at 7:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I won't consider it a taboo but you must understand that the traditional concept of races is based on superficial appearances. For example it would put all black skinned African people in one group (and so on with other people). Certainly there are differences in different human populations (morphological, anatomical and metabolic). You may rephrase your question on these lines and narrow it down. Be precise and avoid unnecessary explanation of things that you are not interested in. $\endgroup$
    Feb 19, 2020 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Well if you say straight hair vs. african curly hair is "superficial" then you might say there would also be "superficial" differences in organs. However, it easy to tell by sight the differences. No-one would mistake a native Nigerian for a native Norwegian. I did narrow it down to Norwegians vs Nigerians. In that case the question is "what are the superficial differences in internal organs between these two people." Sounds like a worrying lack of research in this area! $\endgroup$
    – zooby
    Feb 19, 2020 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @zooby By superficial, I meant what is easily observable (like skin color or hair shape). The easy-to-tell-by-sight differences were the basis of race. Research has found that just because two people look similar doesn't mean that they are genetically more similar. Anyway, by narrowing down I meant that you can make you question precise. I would rephrase the title on the lines of "are there significant differences in the internal anatomy of different human population groups" (and edit the body accordingly). You don't have to narrow it down to the level of comparing Norwegians and Nigerians. $\endgroup$
    Feb 19, 2020 at 15:59


You must log in to answer this question.