In the History Channel program Clash of the Gods, some of the highlit characters have been given some interesting physical liberties. The episode "Minotaur" features King Minos with a meerkat-like black ring around his left eye and Theseus as a Caucasian man with a raccoon-like black mottle around his right eye. Another episode, "Medusa", also portrays Perseus with the same black blotch around his right eye, as does his mother, Danae, but also portrays King Acrisius with a black forehead.

Recent evidence has been showing that the origins of ethnic diversity involve individual mutations rather than specific responses to environmental surroundings. In that respect, is the sort of multichromacy presented in Clash of the Gods within the realm of possibility?

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, of course. Bilaterally symmetrical patterns would be a bit more likely. Humans already have localized patches of color -- lips, nipples and areolas are pinkish/reddish (expressing pheomelanin). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 17 '17 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ You have any photographic examples? $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Aug 17 '17 at 4:02
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    $\begingroup$ Pictures on Wikipedia. You will notice that humans have two bilaterally symmetrical patches of color on their chests. Many more pictures are available on the Internet. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 17 '17 at 4:18
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    $\begingroup$ don't google what AlexP suggests at work! $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Aug 17 '17 at 5:11
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP You missed a perfectly valid opportunity to use the NSFW declaration. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 17 '17 at 12:23

It is definitely possible and actually happens, through a few different possible paths.


Basically a birthmark is a marking on the skin visible at birth, which this would be no matter the actual cause (you have to love medicine where you can define something descriptively rather than for causes). They are caused for a few main reasons; Pigmentation issues dealing with variations in melanin in an area of skin and Vascular issues causing localized changes in blood flow causing discoloration.


The basic idea is that in utero one twin is absorbed by another, leaving the remaining being a composite of the two; with two different sets of genetic material. This can lead to rather interesting combinations including; multiple blood types, multiple sexes, differential hair growth and color, and different eye and skin colorations.


Thinking about it a little more aside from natural genetic multichromacy, the mostly likely actual explanation for marking like you describe would be a tattoo. Humans have been tattooing themselves for several thousand years to achieve this effect, and the idea of kings, priests, or warriors doing it as a mark of power or authority is also supported in history.

  • $\begingroup$ Have babies been tattooed? Because those described features in "Clash of the Gods" were put on babies, too. $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Aug 17 '17 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey Yeah they have, although currently it is of questionable legality. $\endgroup$ – Josh King Aug 17 '17 at 18:23

Vitiligo can look just like that

In addition to Josh King's answer, there's a skin condition called vitiligo in which patches of the skin lose their pigments. It can be symmetrical or asymmetrical, and while the cause is unknown, it is believed to involve genetic susceptibility combined with a triggering environmental factor.

It received some media attention after Desigual used Winnie Harlow, a model with vitiligo in a fashion campagin (articles here, and here)

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 This was going to be my suggestion. It's more or less exactly what the OP is looking for. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Aug 17 '17 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ Loss of pigmentation in random spots is one thing, but what about the opposite? $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Aug 17 '17 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey skin cancers can be basically that, areas where there are pigmentation changes due to rapidly changing cells. $\endgroup$ – Marshall Tigerus Aug 17 '17 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnWDailey, you can always get the opposite by a 'negative' of loss of pigmentation - e.g. for King Acrisius to have a black forehead, he can have vitiligo on his face everywhere but the forehead, but there are some other candidate conditions, see this wikipedia list of similar conditions, e.g. Piebaldism. Also note that the spots are not always random - for some types of this condition the patches are symmetrical, have clearly defined borders and tend to appear in certain areas. $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Aug 20 '17 at 15:16

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