Why did evolution leave beards on men?

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by bimble, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. friedaweed

    friedaweed Sitting down for a wee

    Strokes chin...
     
  2. Sprocket.

    Sprocket. Baroudeur...

    That’s what Lance Armstrong said.
     
  3. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow cooking expert and general daft apeth

    :mad:
     
    marty21 likes this.
  4. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Warning: posts may cause vasovagal presyncope

    And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. Oh yeah!
     
  5. friedaweed

    friedaweed Sitting down for a wee

    That's Louie chuck ;)
     
    bubblesmcgrath likes this.
  6. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank Ridin' a Stutz Bearcat, Jim

    Beards serve a vaulable evolutionary purpose by facilitatating the detection and avoidance of hipsters.
     
    Kaka Tim, Almor, cupid_stunt and 4 others like this.
  7. SpookyFrank

    SpookyFrank Ridin' a Stutz Bearcat, Jim

    Well he would say that, being drugged up to the eyeballs and all.
     
  8. Supine

    Supine Rough Like Badger

    God was a hipster. Hence beards.
     
    bubblesmcgrath likes this.
  9. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Warning: posts may cause vasovagal presyncope

    One small step for mankind...
     
  10. marty21

    marty21 One on one? You're crazy.

    I am doing this whilst reading your post
     
  11. bubblesmcgrath

    bubblesmcgrath Well-Known Member

    I always thought beards were to protect the skin on the face from bad weather when out hunting and gathering.
     
  12. marty21

    marty21 One on one? You're crazy.

    tbf, when I am hunting and gathering, my beard does a fine job
     
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  13. bubblesmcgrath

    bubblesmcgrath Well-Known Member

    Does it catch a lot ? :)
     
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  14. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow cooking expert and general daft apeth

    I'm doing likewise while reading yours.
     
  15. marty21

    marty21 One on one? You're crazy.

    flying ants for tea tonight :cool:
     
  16. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    Mind you some men have very little facial hair and some women have pretty much full on beards and mustaches. A lot's in the presentation.
     
    Edward Kelly and bubblesmcgrath like this.
  17. bubblesmcgrath

    bubblesmcgrath Well-Known Member

    True :)

    Not sure what you mean?
     
  18. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    Like whether you shave it or not.
     
  19. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I think the more interesting question is 'why did evolution strip us of most of our useful hair?' One possible explanation put forward by Stephen Jay Gould, which I find very plausible, is that it's a by-product of neoteny - the maintenance of certain juvenile characteristics throughout life, which enables us to have far more plastic brains life-long rather than just in childhood, as is the case with most other mammals: the old 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' saying also applies to chimpanzees. The plausibility of that idea is increased by the fact that what hair we do have left matches the pattern of hair on immature mammals of other species.

    So a particular genetic mutation, possibly a very simple one, delays maturity indefinitely, keeping our brains more plastic, but with a side-effect of nakedness, which is a problem, but a problem that we can solve with our better brain power. The various bits of hair that are left on males or females are mostly a product of serendipity.
     
  20. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist my world is fire and blood

    except the pubic hair obvs, thats got a function
     
  21. SheilaNaGig

    SheilaNaGig Struggling and striving


    How does neoteny accommodate the naked ape theory? Or have they not been considered together?
     
  22. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    The hair we have left is useful - on the head to keep it warm/stop it from burning. And elsewhere to prevent chafing. But I don't find any explanation for why being naked elsewhere is beneficial to be persuasive. We're endurance runners, or were, yes, hence we sweat so much. But so are horses, and they haven't lost their hair. Hair keeps you warm in the cold and protects against the sun in the hot, so you'd think an endurance runner might have short hair like a horse, but not no hair like us (well, not no hair, but no useful hair - we have as many hairs as a chimp). imo a by-product of neoteny that in and of itself is not really beneficial is more persuasive.
     
  23. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Neoteny would be the explanation for why we're 'naked apes'. The argument here would be that our nakedness isn't actually a benefit to us at all - it's a cost, but that cost is outweighed by the benefits of neoteny in terms of brain plasticity, so neoteny was selected by natural selection despite the nakedness that it brought along with it.
     
  24. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    I'm finding my brain less plastic the older I get and I still can't scrape together a convincing beard. :(
     
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  25. SheilaNaGig

    SheilaNaGig Struggling and striving


    My understanding of the [naked] aquatic * ape theory is that we lost our hair in order to be more mobile and efficient in the water.

    If I understand what you’re saying correctly, we got naked first and later got into the water because it was easier and became an option? But that’s wouldn’t properly explain why the remaining scarce hair we do have is all streamlined. That looks to my mind more as if we lost our hair and streamlined what remained simultaneously.

    The naked ape theory doesn’t explain beards though. But I don’t see how juvenile characteristics do either. Nor chest hair either really. How is that a juvenile characteristic?

    *Corrected from naked to aquatic as maomao ‘s posts below.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  26. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I would say that's a naked ape theory rather than the theory. Another is the one I referred to, that we lost our hair to lose heat more effectively in long-distance running. I find neither to be a convincing explanation. We're not particularly strong swimmers and swimming isn't an activity that is central to many human cultures.

    Regarding beards, chest hair, etc, I think the answer is not to think too hard for an answer. The interplay of hormones produces a slightly different hair distribution among males from females (and also produces in many males male-pattern baldness, which has no use at all), and that difference probably has no particular advantage or disadvantage, so it hasn't been selected out. The central idea here would be that the difference in hormones has been selected for other reasons, and this particular aspect piggy-backs as a side-effect that is sufficiently neutral not to be selected out. Evolution is full of examples of this kind of thing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  27. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    That's the aquatic ape theory.
     
    SheilaNaGig likes this.
  28. maomao

    maomao 四月她爹

    There is no 'naked ape theory'. It's just the title of a Desmond Morris book.
     
  29. Gromit

    Gromit International Man of Misery

    Men out hunting in the cold can’t cover their face because they then couldn’t see or breathe. Hair grown to insulate against the cold.

    Women back in the cave’s kitchen, nice warm Ikea thïūd fire pit and skordâ wall paintings didn’t need face protection so didn’t develop it.
     
  30. cupid_stunt

    cupid_stunt Dyslexic cnut, & all round knob-head.

    Getting in-between your partner's teeth.
     
  31. SheilaNaGig

    SheilaNaGig Struggling and striving

    Thanks. I did actually know that but said it wrong. Thank you for pointing it out.
     

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