Why did evolution leave beards on men?

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

  1. SheilaNaGig

    SheilaNaGig Struggling and striving

    As I understand it, the aquatic ape theory suggests that we kind of hung around in the water, pretty much within standing distance of the shore. So swimming wasn’t the main thing.

    Anyway, I like the theory but this thread is about something else.
    bubblesmcgrath likes this.
  2. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    Basically, back in the early days of humans, there were humans that were instinctively drawn to shaving and not having a beard, and other humans that were not drawn to doing this. Because tools were not very good, this being long before safety razors were invented, shaving meant lots of nicks and bleeding, and this blood attracted predators. Over time this meant that the shavers died more and did not pass on their instinctive shaving genes, whilst the more superiorly adapted non-shavers gradually edged them out. Of course the instinct has never entirely gone because this is a marginal rather than substantial evolutionary pressure, hence we still have shavers today, and as shaving is safer and predators are fewer, perhaps we will see this evolutionary trait arise again.
    kabbes, Wilf, MochaSoul and 14 others like this.
  3. cupid_stunt

    cupid_stunt Dyslexic King Cnut ... the Great.

  4. friedaweed

    friedaweed Sitting down for a wee

    No that was Lightyear mucker ;)
    danny la rouge likes this.
  5. xenon

    xenon Sweep and cut

    friedaweed likes this.
  6. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    That's a very marginal gain for an animal that spends most of its time out if the water. Not convinced at all by it. What percentage gain of streamlining are we talking here? Mammals that return to water often lose their hair as in seals or whales but often don't as in the very streamlined and very hairy otter. I see no reason at all for this theory to be true and lots of reasons to doubt it.
  7. petee

    petee i'm spartacus

    perhaps this is the right place to tell the following story.
    i used to have a red, like really red, like copper-red beard. but my hair has always been brown.
    and a gf once said to me, "you know what women think when they see that..." :oops:
    so the evolutionary benefit my beard provided me is prrrrrrrretty obvious.
  8. Celyn

    Celyn Well-Known Member

    Actually, no. Not obvious, but I'm glad for you and your long ago gf. :D
    JimW likes this.
  9. Wookey

    Wookey Muppet is not a slur

    Women have beards and taches too, just not as thick.

    We all have very similar numbers of hair follicles be we male or female, it's the coarseness of the hair which is different in each gender... Because testosterone.
    campanula, Humirax and fishfinger like this.
  10. Mumbles274

    Mumbles274 running from law and the press and the parents

    Will humans have evolved to have not had hairy bodies first, including facial hair with later evolutionary characteristics such as beards being developed as a further adaption? First humans were in hot climates, dark and smooth skimmed weren't they? Earlier humanids hairier and hairier?

    Its not so much why did beards remain but why did they come back/ develop in males more predominantly?

    Is the process of skin colour adaptation understood or have sound theories? Hair straightness and colour? Eyes? Do apes have different colour eyes?
  11. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow Seagull + Chips = Happy Seagull

    Do you mean do different species of apes have variable eye colour between individuals, or do individual apes have differently coloured eyes such as one blue and one green?
  12. Mumbles274

    Mumbles274 running from law and the press and the parents

    Do any other ape species have different eye colours to their kin?
  13. farmerbarleymow

    farmerbarleymow Seagull + Chips = Happy Seagull

    I haven't really thought about eye colour in primates. But wikipedia has this article about the cooperative eye hypothesis, regarding the difference between humans and other primates.

    Cooperative eye hypothesis - Wikipedia

    However, blue-eyed black lemurs look from a quick search that they are the only other primate to have blue eyes. This paper looks at whether there is a link between the genetic basis of this and human blue eyes, and concludes that the genetic basis of blue eyes differs between the two species.

    Blue eyes in lemurs and humans: same phenotype, different genetic mechanism. - PubMed - NCBI
    Mumbles274 likes this.
  14. Sprocket.

    Sprocket. Pogo Suppression System Installed....

    We are looking for a pointless answer....
  15. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Talented man that Ben Miller.
    Sprocket. likes this.
  16. bimble

    bimble noisy but small

    just found this, which is the best thing I've read on the subject so far (apart from here obvs) :
    Survival of the Scruffiest

    Includes this bit, acknowledging that 'because it isn't a disadvantage' is fair enough but doesn't make people stop asking:

    "As it now stands, theorists have proposed three basic solutions to the beard conundrum. The simplest, which Darwin himself considered and rejected, is that beards have no purpose at all. Accidents happen in evolution as in everything else. A gene preferred in natural selection for, say, its role in making the skin more resilient, may have the secondary effect, not in itself significant, of giving that skin a certain color. The difficulty in discerning any obvious survival value in facial hair makes it a possible example of this phenomenon. But most scientists have been reluctant to let it rest there. For one thing, insignificance is an unprovable supposition. It is impossible to say for certain that beards are simply along for the ride, at least not until all the functions of all the human genome are discovered. Scientists seek reasons for things, after all, and it is far more interesting to suppose that beards serve a purpose, obscure though it may be.."
  17. Sprocket.

    Sprocket. Pogo Suppression System Installed....

    Bit of a Stretch....sorry!
    Spymaster likes this.
  18. nuffsaid

    nuffsaid But this goes up to 11

    Well having read this thread there is another theory I read about once.

    Beards make a man look more aggressive - and so when competition for mates is involved those with fuller beards were able to intimidate males with lesser or no beards and so the genes for growing beards, as a result of testosterone, became more widely distributed. They are grown to show dominance over other males, and therefore become associated with status, a trait attractive to females as it provides a greater chance for their genes to have a better chance of survival as high status individuals get the best access to food, weapons etc and lower ranking individuals will be roped in to aid the upbringing of high ranking children.

    Even today when I see an attractive female in a Starbucks I am less inclined to attempt to approach her due to the glaring looks of the scarily-bearded hipsters located nearby on their Macbooks, intimidating me not just with the beard but with their feminine patois on the benefits of organic ale and knowledge of avocado ciabattas available locally, a knowledge I cannot compete with. Thus I tend to shuffle off with my early 90s stubble and vacate the current gene pool.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
    bubblesmcgrath likes this.
  19. Ralph Llama


    Clitoral stimulation increasing chances of reproduction ?
  20. Kaka Tim

    Kaka Tim Crush the Saboteurs!

    Humans aren't particularly impressive swimmers when compared with other aquatic mammals - - i.e the ones with fins and tails and shit - but are still a lot more adapt at swimming then the rest. And its not about where humans live now - the argument is that at some point of human evolution there was a very strong link with water. you only have look at pearl divers to see what swimming day in day out for most of your life does for proficiency in the water.
  21. Mation

    Mation real life adventure worth more than pieces of gold


    What are you basing this on?
  22. 8ball


  23. 8ball


    I'm a bit sceptical of the "hair preventing chafing" thing.

    i) Coarse, wiry hair doesn't seem like a good way of preventing chafing.
    ii) It doesn't seem to be arranged in a manner or density that matches chafing surfaces.
    iii) Some surfaces prone to chafing are devoid of hair
  24. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    i) Dunno about you, but the hair in my chafy places is fine and soft

    ii) Arm pits, arse cheeks, upper inner thigh and around genitals

    iii) lower inner thigh is the only one I can think of
  25. 8ball


    This looks like wishful thinking, as well as being a side effect of wanting all sorts of human characteristics to have a simple "function". Humans look more to me like a bag of spandrels than any other species I can think of.

    The most fine and soft hair is in the non-chafy places and even where the coarse hair is in chafy places it's not really concentrated where the chafing happens. Then there is the hair in non-chafy places (chest hair? back hair?). It doesn't seem to work very well even at a "just so story" level.
  26. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Most people have a negligible amount of either chest hair or back hair.

    If hair is too fine it won't prevent chafing.

    Also, if you reread my posts, I've been mostly arguing against simple wanting characteristics to have a function. It is true that human hair distribution broadly matches that of immature mammals that then become more hairy later on.
  27. 8ball



    <starts up wire-wool pants company..> :hmm:
  28. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    The really fine hairs on our skin (ie the majority of them) basically do next to fuck all. Certainly useless in preventing chafing.
  29. 8ball


    Indeed. The lazy bastards.
  30. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Anyhoo, I'm not too attached to that bit of the theory. It doesn't affect the 'nakedness is a by-product of neoteny, which was selected for the advantages of brain plasticity' story.

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