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I am trying to come up with a non-aesthetic reason for a group of humans to have been genetically altered to have an exotic skin color. Purple, blue, green, red, I'm not particularly fussed about which.

Ideally this would be a pragmatic reason geared toward increasing adaptability for xeno-planets. The best I've come up with is that colorful skin might protect against that wavelength of light for some reason.

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  • $\begingroup$ I developed a species of my own where one of their physical traits was that their skin patterns were based on hereditary memory and life experience. Markings appear at birth and later in life to show detailed family trees, locations visited, strongest physical attributes, catalogues of wounds received and so on. I went a little further and justified reasons for such evolution to take place; in this case the need for silent communication. $\endgroup$ – Darius Arcturus Feb 25 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ RL humans are colored mostly by their blood color(red of iron in haemoglobin) + anti-UV melanin. If haemoglobin would be ineffective on your xeno-planet and you will replace with something else, your skin will change color. If your xeno-planet's sun will be more active in different diapason you may not need melanin, or need something else instead of it, and your skin color will change. $\endgroup$ – user28434 Feb 25 at 15:39
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The skin color is an unintended byproduct.

Your humans have been genetically engineered for disease resistance, self-synthesis of certain vitamins and amino acids, slightly different neural synapses that benefit from ambient low levels of nitric oxide, and other things. Genetic engineering is usually done at the early zygote stage by extracting one or more cells, engineering them and then adding them back to the zygote, so the descendants of that engineered cell spread around and give rise to engineered populations "homogenously" within the organism.

It is not really clear which of the engineered cell populations interact but a result is unpredictable skin and hair coloration, which occurs semirandomly. Sometimes it is all one color. Some people are several colors or have harlequin like patches, apparently according to the establishment of engineered populations of cells. It is not uncommon for the coloration to drift and change with the years. More rapid and dramatic changes can occur when people use "aftermarket" GMO; infusions of engineered stem cells which are intended to spread thru the organism and engraft, conferring new properties. The aftermarket GMO cells are sort of like apps - they are made by a variety of proprietors and vary greatly in quality, efficacy, side effect profile, and cost.

The genetic engineers overseeing GMO projects view this skin color issue as harmless and irrelevant; certainly more harmless than other side effects of the engineering endeavor which occupy most of their remedial efforts.

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The colors simply signal the specific type of compatibility modification they have been given. This allows rapid recognition of specific medical requirements or lack there of.

This allows people to know if it is safe to open the door outside and which people need help if the door was suddenly opened. Or if something leaks or cracks. Or which people can eat which food without issues. Or which people require specific supplements or care. Or can handle sunlight without protection. Or which people you can throw a tool at local gravity without becoming a murderer.

It may also denote legal status. These people were modified to match specific environment before birth. This implies people doing the modification were not concerned about the person wanting to live somewhere else. Sometimes this is because the modification was cheap and safe. Sometimes it is because interstellar travel is expensive. Sometimes it is because the company or the government decided where the person will live before they are born.

The modified colonists would essentially be serfs, living and working where they are ordered to. It would be convenient, and probably legally required, to have easy visual differentiation between people of different legal rights.

Extensive genetic engineering might simply be controversial enough that law requires it to be visually recognizable.

Note that even if such legal requirements no longer exist, people might choose not to edit out or hide their heritage. Seeing who can safely eat food with high heavy metal content or breathe air with chlorine in it is still convenient so why bother. Besides it would dishonor your ancestors.

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If you take out appearance (and with it also the part where it helps them find a sexual partner). you are left with:

Camouflage, if your humans are rather un-evolved technologically they would have to rely on other forms of hiding seeing our pink skins would stand out against an environment that is mainly blue or green.

Warning signs, If your humans are poisonous they might have developed bright colors to warn predators that they might kill the human but won't be able to eat the meat without dying themselves.

Mimicry, defending itself to look more like a other creature (predator) to warn off other animals from engaging it.

Startling/Distracting, if the color is hidden and comes out in a burst it might make a hostile creature go "Wtf?" and back off something peacocks do for example.

But all of this would relate more to a beast then a humanoid creature seeing a humanoid creature would be able to do this better using technology. So other then to look appealing, protect against the sun or perhaps heat regulation there doesn't seem a good reason to evolve certain traits....so if a humanoid has them it would be probably be a left over from their evolutionary process that no longer serves a real purpose (like whale legs). So for it to work in your setting it would probably have been done to help humans survive in a hostile wild environment where there is no aces to technology of even the most basic levels (like why use genetic engineering on the skin if you can use a body suite, it would be much cheaper and flexible).

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They were designed to be exotic sex workers.

If it’s possible to create fully grown individuals in your setting through something like accelerated growth cloning tanks or full-body organ printing, then it’s entirely possible that some people will use that technology to produce sex workers; whether these individuals would be sold for private use (essentially acting as a “buy a wife” service) or sold to sex industry businesses would depend on the particular business models of the companies making them.

However, while some of those companies might be content making basic copies of attractive human women, it’s likely that once the technology becomes available, they’ll want to compete with each other by offering the sales of more exotic product lines, which might include things like cat girls, bunny girls, or green skinned space babes.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer makes sense, but it was the specific answer I was trying to avoid when I said "non-aesthetic," heh. Thanks though! $\endgroup$ – Pasqueflower Feb 27 at 0:27
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Vividly colored alien microbes accidentally colonized the human's skin - the outer layer of dead cells on the skin. They are harmless, act as mild disinfectant, repulse annoying insects from Earth and remove bodily odor. They are being further improved, as they are much easier to genetically engineer than humans. But by the time colorless variety was bred, everyone was accustomed to the wild colors.

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When the first human colonies to left our solar system, there was a tremendous concern with preserving their cultural links to mother earth. If something went wrong, and the colony became isolated, the concern was these humans could develop into a competitor to future generations of humans if they forgot we were all brothers and sisters under the skin.

In an attempt to address this, the first colonists carried the whole of human history, music, art, and science encoded on the dark regions of their DNA. It is estimated that 215 Petabytes of data can be stored on a gram of DNA strands. Since they could only use the dark regions of our DNA for storage without risking corruption to the colonists' genetic viability, this Encyclopedia Universalis was encoded and broken up the colonists.

The specific encoding key was tied to individual colonists and was reflected in their skin -- thnk like Red, Green, Blue. After generations, these hues display a range of colors - Purple, Cyan, Burgundy, etc -- but the hue still contains the precise key needed to decode the information stored on their DNA.

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