Polymorphisms of red‐green vision in some populations of Southern Africa

Avinoam Adam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some 5,000 schoolboys of the Khoikhoi, Negro, “Coloured,” and Malay populations were screened with the Ishihara plates, and those with defective red‐green vision were diagnosed with an anomaloscope. The findings are presented in terms of the six protan and deutan mutant alleles, a few large population‐samples (e.g., Nama and Zulu) being characterized by absence of the allele for protanopia. The overall frequencies of mutants range from less than 1% to over 4%. No correspondence was found between these data and linguistic affinities of eight Bantu‐speaking groups, nor between the frequencies of colorblindness and previously estimated proportions of San genes in these eight populations; on the other hand, a north‐south cline of increasing frequencies of mutants and of dichromacies among the Bantu‐speakers was noted. The overall frequency of defective red‐green vision among Cape Coloureds, 3.3%, is compatible with previously estimated racial composition of this population. The Malay sample is characterized by the highest frequency of protan mutants (2%), a 1:1 protan‐deutan ratio, and an overall frequency of 4% of red‐green defects. The study illustrates the potential value of anomaloscopic characterization of colorblindness in attempts to evaluate human evolutionary processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-346
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1980


  • Colorblindness
  • Protan and deutan alleles
  • Southern African populations


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