So the question that comes to mind is, What is the evolutionary advantage for beards? In order to understand the evolutionary advantage for beards, we need to go back, all the way back in fact. The best way to get to the heart of this question is to chunk it down in four simple questions and answers which will bring us to today and reveal everything you need to know. So let us take a journey to the beginning and discover what the evolutionary advantage for beards was.
Why Do Different Mammals Have Fur?
The answer to this question depends on the region where the mammals thrived, they needed that fur as protection to keep them warm. Whether in freezing temperatures or in southern regions that saw colder temperatures at night, the fur acted like a protective layer to keep vital organs warm. The fur also protected the skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun and acted like camouflage from other predators.
Then Why Did All Humans Lose the Fur?
Mammals began losing their fur because some of them that were living in warmer climates, lived in the water, lived underground, or began to develop a thicker skin. As humans evolved, it became clear that they all began losing their fur and needed to protect their bodies with clothing. While humans living in the Arctic cold lost their fur, it could be a case of the species reproducing in warmer climates and migrating to the north. Other theories link the loss of the fur on humans to the ability to eliminate ticks, lice, and other skin parasites.
Why Did Facial Hair Enjoy a Comeback?
While many humans lost their fur as to not overheat in the hot jungle environment, as many migrated north, clothing quickly became a necessity. It was faster to create clothing than to wait to evolve back to full body hair, and the head was often the only extremity exposed after clothing was first created. The development of clothing would have spread much faster than full hair growth, and as the facial hair grew it helped to protect the skin from the harsh frigid temperatures and keep the body heat from escaping.
Why Did Beards Become Increasingly Popular?
Most theories tend to lean towards the beard popularity being nothing more than a way to keep the face warm. This could explain why so many Europeans had full beards and Africans did not. The question however still comes up as to why Asians have wispy beards and the men from the middle east have thicker ones. Then you add into the mix the question as to why children and women had no beards. The most common reasoning for the men sporting beards in early times was simple, they left the safety of the caves and went on the hunt for food while the women and children stayed behind warm and safe. The male of the species needed to get close to their prey and the camouflage of fur would have been important.
Males and Facial Hair Explained
Fast forward hundreds of centuries, and the male sports beards while women and children do not. While the men were hunting, women and children used their facial expressions to communicate. Today, this could explain why women and children can understand each other with only the slightest facial movement, while men couldn’t pick up a subtle hint if it landed on their heads. The males developed the skills to hunt and hide with their facial hair, while the rest of the species was focused on communication. The male would develop the beards at puberty, signaling to the females that they were able to reproduce. Many male species grow unique feathers that tell the females which males are the ones now able to reproduce.
The beards that men wear today are still used in many cases to attract the female of the species, simply ask most women how attractive they find bearded men. It instantly promotes images of the alpha male, the dominant male, the rugged provider, the protector, the ideal man. Looking back to an ancient man and his long, thick beard with parasites, it creates a display that triggers the female species to procreate. While many men today do grow beards to protect their skin from the cold, it seems that they are well aware of the allure it has on the female species and how effective it can be if utilized as a tool to advance the species.
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