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Why Do Humans Lack the Abundant Hair of Apes?

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

Nature, as the old saying goes, abhors a vacuum. Give nature a vacuum, and nature will try to fill it. Likewise, anytime there is a dangling question regarding the alleged ape ancestry of humans, evolutionists will try to provide an answer for it. Case in point: why did humans lose so much hair? After all, it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that humans and other primates differ greatly in the way their bodies are covered with hair. Van Horn commented on this quandary:

A major difference between humans and other primates is the great reduction of body hair in humans relative to other primates. The question of this difference has often been asked in the context of the loss of human hair, but this is not strictly true. Modern humans are not hairless in the sense of being glabrous, but rather have had a significant diminution of body hair length and thickness relative to other primates. The only hair structure that has been truly lost in the human condition is the vibrissae, which are the sensory whiskers that are common in most mammals (see “Human Thermoregulation…,” 2003).

In an effort to “explain away” this obvious difference, evolutionists proposed that hair loss occurred in relation to human thermoregulation. Thus, it became accepted by many in the scientific community that humans lost their hair to help better control body temperature. At first glance, this theory seemed plausible, especially when theorists conjured up ape-like creatures walking uprightly on the hot plains of the African savannahs. But this cooling hypothesis is not all it is cracked up to be. While benefiting those with less hair, that hot African climate can turn very cold at night. Thus, hairless humans would find themselves at a disadvantage, losing too much heat after the Sun set. A quick inventory of other “naked” mammals (animals that have less body hair than most mammals, such as whales, elephants, walruses, pigs, mole-rats, etc.) demonstrates that the amount of body hair is not an accurate indicator of environmental temperatures. As such, evolutionists needed a new answer. A “vacuum” had arisen, and nature (and evolutionists) abhor(s) a vacuum.

Enter those pesky parasites and bugs. The latest theory proposed by evolutionists has humans shedding their hair to “beat the bugs.” Researchers now are suggesting that humans somehow reduced the amount of hair on their bodies in an effort to mitigate the effects of ectoparasites (like biting flies) that live in fur or thick hair. Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel stated: “Our view is that hairlessness is an adaptation for reducing the ectoparasite load” (as quoted in Bhattacharya, 2003). The obvious question then becomes: If humans evolved to beat parasites by losing the hair in which they hide, why did apes and monkeys not follow suit? Pagel believes the reason has to do with the fact that, around the same time we were busy becoming “hairless,” humans also developed their own culture. He believes it would have been around this same time that we learned to build fires and shelters to keep warm.

Ah, but that’s not the end of this grand tale. Professor Pagel also believes that “[h]airlessness would have allowed humans to convincingly ‘advertise’ their reduced susceptibility to parasitic infection and this trait therefore became desirable in a mate” (Pagel and Bodmer, 2003). Of course, this does not explain why humans have selected to retain facial and pubic hair, and hair on the top of their heads. If evolutionists are going to use sexual selection as one explanation of why humans lost their hair, then they have a major problem overcoming pubescent hair growth that, in essence, shields from view the external genitalia.

Yet, the obligatory evolutionary endorsements still will come. Christophe Soligo, a researcher in human origins at the Natural History Museum in London, concurred with Pagel, noting: “It does sound quite plausible” (as quoted in Bhattacharya, 2003). Soligo called the theory “elegant,” since he believes it addresses a key problem. However, Soligo and Pagel apparently are having trouble “seeing the forest for the trees.” Yes, this new theory works well with the theory of biting flies that live in fur. But what about the countless other ticks, parasites, flying insects, stinging insects, and poisonous plants that then would have easier access to skin with less hair present? Also, did humans alter the amount of melanin in their skin as a result of shedding all this hair? After all, with less hair, these ape-like creatures would be much more susceptible to skin damage from the Sun.

Does it make any sense that humans would shed hair in an effort to rid themselves of bothersome biting flies, but in the process make themselves more susceptible to other parasites, abrasion, and skin damage? And we still have not fully explained why other ape-like creatures decided to sit by idly when humans finally figured out how to beat these nasty biting flies. In shedding the flies, did we also then simultaneously acquire the ability to regulate heat, regulate body fluids, combat infection, and receive sexual stimulation through our skin? Have we forgotten that one of our key senses (touch) relies on our bodies not possessing large amounts of hair? Did the biting flies also help in designing the self-healing, self-regenerating properties of skin? On a microscopic level, the integument is incredibly complex, consisting of three principal layers. The outer epidermal layer is further stratified into four or five structural and functional layers. In fact, it is organized so that the circulatory system, nervous system, muscular system, and skeletal system can all function together for a common goal. Plus, it is the largest organ of the body, and performs both protective and metabolic functions. Yet scientists want us to believe that we shed our hair simply to “beat the bugs.” Oh, what a tangled web we weave….

REFERENCES

Bhattacharya, Shaoni (2003), “Early Humans Lost Hair to Beat Bugs,” New Scientist, [On-line], URL: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993807.

“Human Thermoregulation and Hair Loss,” (2003), [On-line], URL: http://www.modernhumanorigins.com/anth501.html.

Pagel, Mark and Walter Boder, (2003), “New Theory on Human Hairlessness,” Royal Society Biology Letters, FirstCite, [On-line], URL: http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/biol_lett/biol_lett_main.htm.




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