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Author Topic: When did Homo Lose His Fur?  (Read 1601 times)

Offline AndroidNeox

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When did Homo Lose His Fur?
« on: 07/02/2013 21:27:24 »
Did our ancestors lose their fur about the same time they mastered fire? Once they had fire, they would have less need for fur. Also, being covered in fur is dangerous if you're sleeping near open fire.

Maybe the discovery of fire caused us to become naked apes?


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: When did Homo Lose His Fur?
« Reply #1 on: 07/02/2013 21:56:06 »
It is a good point that fire and wearing pelts not only make fur not necessary, but thick and dense fur may be problematic. 

Thin or short hair would tend to singe, rather than burn (which might give one the effect of having no hair).  However, it may not be all that dangerous.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: When did Homo Lose His Fur?
« Reply #2 on: 07/02/2013 22:38:55 »
The last explanation I read was that less hair reduced the number of parasites. None of the explanations ever seem very satisfactory (like those having to do with temperature regulation, vitamin D, sexual attraction) because so many other animals do have fur. And I'm sitting in Canada right now where it is very cold. But maybe there were particular parasite that were worse for humans than other mammals.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: When did Homo Lose His Fur?
« Reply #3 on: 08/02/2013 20:59:58 »
It is difficult to answer questions about hair from the fossil record, because hair is rarely preserved. So we are left with a lot of speculation.

One suggestion is that when humans hunted by running down prey, sweat glands were important and thick hair would have caused overheating.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair#Human_hairlessness

Another suggestion derives from the observation that:
Quote
of the approximately 5000 extant species of mammal, only a handful are effectively hairless. This list includes elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, walruses, pigs, whales and other cetaceans, and naked mole rats

This led to the rather controversial "aquatic ape" hypothesis, that at some time, humans spent a lot of time in or near the water, and a thick mat of hair may have made swimming more difficult: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatic_ape_hypothesis

Perhaps in future, it may be possible to say more about the history of hairlessness in humans based on DNA analysis?
 

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Re: When did Homo Lose His Fur?
« Reply #3 on: 08/02/2013 20:59:58 »

 

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