Why don't women have beards?

29 April 2012

Question

I guess that the gene that codes for men having hairy chests and backs is an evolutionary advantage in response to an environmental pressure. But why don't women have beards and hairy chests in response to the same pressures?

Answer

With the answer is evolutionary expert Professor Robert Foley from Cambridge University....

Robert - Really, the question is why have women lost more hair in the course of our evolution than men have? If we go back to our evolutionary origins and think of the fact that we share ancestry with apes and monkeys, what is unique about humans is that we have generally lost hair. Hence, some of us hear the expression 'the naked ape'. It's actually not quite true to say we are hairless or the naked apes because we've kept hair in many parts of our body and partly because we haven't actually lost the hair. It's just become highly miniaturised, almost certainly because it gave an adaptive advantage in particular, helps keep cool, possibly related to having more upright posture, possibly relating to being much more active and running. Now the question being asked is why aren't we all equally hairless? Well to some extent, of course, people across the world vary enormously and then of course there's a big difference between men and women, and the answer most likely is to do with sex or selection. This is the second of Darwin's great mechanisms, that selection doesn't just work to fit people in the natural environment. It also comes about because individuals select the traits of the people they want to reproduce with, and probably, it's the case that loss of hair, a key human characteristic, becomes more important in selecting for women because it makes them more attractive. So while all humans have been selected to lose hair, the process of how you choose a mate has extended much more in women than in men. So the real question perhaps is, why should that be attractive and I'm afraid that's probably something of a mystery.

Hannah - And Clifford K. on the forum suggests that society has adapted to preference of youthful looking women for longer healthy child-bearing years and having a hairless chin may make females look younger, providing the possible reason for the sexual selection.

Comments

The real answer is found in the Bible. Man, and woman are created in the image of Heavenly Father and Heavenly mother. False hypothesis by Darwin, Robert Foley are wrong. Apes and all Animals were created by God. Women are beautiful and men are hansom. Men’s hair and women’s hair are different because God created them that way. Women’s hair is more attractive than men’s hair. God commanded men to marry daughters of God; to have children and create eternal families. Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, received revelation directly from Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and Angels to teach the truth. Your answers will be found in the Bible and modern-day Prophets of God. I testify that this information is true. I challenge you to read the Bible and ask God if it is true.

While I respect your right to voice your beliefs (albeit on a science site, which is really not the right platform), I'm afraid that your answer does not in any way answer the person's question; nor does it provide any kind of supporting evidence or a testable hypothesis. If I told you that the moon was made of cheese and that I knew this because I read it in a book somewhere, most rational people would ask to see the evidence for themselves...

Add a comment