In June 2015, a photograph started circulating on the internet showing the world’s darkest baby. Now we know what you’re thinking. Why is this even a thing? The color of someone’s skin and more so of a child should not be up for debate.
However, a photograph of this baby gained so much traction, creating a significant buzz across all social media channels. Take a look at this reddit thread for example.
‘Just don’t feed it after midnight’, ‘Train him to be the greatest Ninja Assassin the world has ever known’, ‘Not fake’, ‘WTF? Nah…it’s fake.’ Remember the internet always needs something to argue about. The year 2015 was the year of memes going viral. #thedress was a viral photo that came out on 26 February 2015 and the internet basically lost its mind.
The earliest posting of this photograph was found posted by Twitter user @NaimHumphery on 10 June 2015. No one seems to have claimed the picture and its origin seems extremely dubious but the Naim Humphery’s status did receive 2,929 retweets.
Question: What mysteries do you want to know the answer to?
This baby’s picture had many many “netizens” asking whether this photo was real or fake. The reason why we emphasize on “netizens” so much is because mainstream media seems to have completely avoided reporting on it. All we have to go on are blogs, social media accounts and some local African dailies who seem to have copy pasted these words over and over again. Some blogs even reported that this baby was so dark that it would make it into the Guinness Book of World Records under the category of “the darkest baby.” First of all, there is no such information to be found on their online database and second of all, that seems like an extremely unlikely (and let’s not forget offensive) category to add to the Guinness Book roster.
Now there are a couple reasons why people think of this baby as a fake. (We are yet to talk about whether this picture is a fake, but you’re going to have to wait a little longer for that) So back to the baby. Let’s take a look at the eyes first. It’s missing the sclera, which is commonly known as the white of the eye. In humans, the whole sclera is white. This makes it easier for us to tell whether someone is looking at you, a major component of nonverbal communication (Imagine all the memes we’d miss out on if not for the classic eye roll). Anyhow, because the human eye is made up of layers as we age the sclera can become thinner causing that part of the eye appear dark blue. A baby born with the genetic disease Osteogenesis Imperfecta (a disease which causes the bones to break easily) can show a blue tint to the whites of their eyes for a symptom. So so far, we have answers ranging from mild discoloration to darkening of pigment in the eye due to old age. But under no circumstances will you find someone with an entirely black sclera, unless of course its Halloween.
Second of all, what’s being debated most is the color of the baby’s skin. This baby is apparently TOO dark. But is there such a thing? Let’s find out. Dark skin occurs in humans who are melanin rich. The global distribution of dark skinned people has a strong correlation to high levels of ultra violet radiation levels that are found in the regions dark skinned people tend to occupy. These populations live extremely close to the equator. Countries like South Asia, Africa, Papua New Guinea and Australia have some of the highest numbers of dark-skinned populations but it is the native people of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea that are known to have some of the darkest skin pigmentation in the world. It is noteworthy to also mention the various nilotic groups of South Sudan, southern Ethiopia and Eastern Chad who are known for their extremely dark, smooth and almost totally flawless skin pigmentation in Africa.
Skin color was categorized during the first half of the 20th century using Von Luschan’s chromatic scale. It was named after its inventor, Felix von Luschan.
He used 36 opaque glass tiles that were compared to the subject’s skin but even practitioners of this method found its use problematic due to its inconsistency. The Von Luschan scale was abandoned in 1950 and replaced with methods using reflectance spectrophotometry. In simple terms, the method determines how any substance absorbsor reflects light by measuring its intensity over a certain range of wavelength. That got real scientific real fast!
What we can say about dark skinned people is this: Darkly pigmented adults tend to have between 18-43% of their epidermis volume (surface layer of the skin) occupied by melanosomes (melanin producing vesicles).
Pierre David, a French artist who went to Brazil in 2009 decided to make a human color chart (you know like one you would find in the paint section of a store), but showing the gradations and shades of human skin color. The project called ‘Swatches’ features scans of skin from 40 different Brazilian men and even within a country that is so close to the equator, you will find it hard to find a baby this dark. If you forgot how dark, let us remind you —-> this dark! (Insert: photo of baby). Moreover, photo manipulation software such as Photoshop could have been used to just as easily alter this baby’s skin color.
Also, this picture claimed that it was that of a new born infant. On a closer look, you will find that the baby appears to have teeth in the photograph. One in every 2000 to 3000 babies can be born with natal teeth, teeth that a child is born with. However, they have little root structure and are often wobbly. The baby in question seems to also have in addition to eyes without sclera, allegedly the “darkest skin in theworld” is also born with natal teeth that seem more solid than it should be expected to have.
You may also remember, that earlier in the video we talked about the possibility of the baby being a fake but not the picture. This could be made possible if this baby were actually a doll. So the picture isn’t what’s fake but the baby might be. One Quora user even claims that the similarity between this Ooak Baby Gorilla Monkey Sculpted Polymer Clay Art Doll and the now infamous baby is uncanny and may be the key to giving you the answers you “netizens” seek.