How do we know female cavemen had beards?

Per this article & pic what makes us think female cavemen had beards.

I don’t see any reference to beards in that article aside from the photo, so - artistic license?

It’s an illustration in what amounts to a tabloid of a fictitious “ape man” – which is not the same thing as a “cave man,” in itself an inaccurate headline given the article’s content. It is not a reconstruction in a scientific journal. It has no bearing on what any scientist would say about any species of human.

I don’t have an answer as to why this particular scientist (and his artist) would say it’s so. But I can think of a few reasons why prehistoric women would have beards. To be honest, how would we know they wouldn’t? I can see the advantages of having beards… keep the face warm, protect the skin from the elements, additional camouflaging with the surroundings, etc. It makes sense, but IANA Evolutionary Biologist, so this is just stipulation.

Maybe its just the hippe nature of California or something, but to this day I see a lot of women with more stubble than I could hope to pull off at 5 o clock. I don’t see why cavewomen wouldn’t :stuck_out_tongue:

The illustration also shows people with remarkably little body hair for that long ago.

IANA Evolutionary Biologist either, but keeping warm appear to have been a disadvantage to early “cavemen”. Rather than living in caves it seems that these “cavemen” actually roamed quite a bit, but I guess calling them “walk-a-lot-men” instead of “cavemen” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

The reason we don’t have hair seems to be because it allowed us to walk farther without overheating. This gave us an advantage in the plains of Africa, where we could roam and hunt for very long distances. Even today, humans can outrun most animals over the long haul. Over short distances, animals like the cheetah make us look silly, but over a day long race, we can beat almost anything, and we make that cheetah look silly (of course, if he eats us after 30 seconds that makes the rest of the race kinda irrelevant).

The other thing that allowed us to walk farther is walking upright, instead of shuffling along on the ground like other apes. Since we were walking upright a couple million years ago, it kinda makes sense that we lost our hair around the same time. Artistic depictions that show us as ape men are just silly. That may have reflected cutting edge science in the 1800s, but we’ve learned a few things since then.

That picture in the link makes no sense on several levels. How old are the man and woman supposed to be? If they have gray hair on their heads and wrinkled faces, why do they have dark body hair and quite fit bodies? Or is that not gray hair at all? It looks like someone dumped a pile of something white on their heads, a little of which spilled on their chests. Is that supposed to be snow? Is there snow on the ground? Or is that white sand? Really, astro, are we supposed to be able to explain every crazy decision made by every artist as if it were a rational exposition of some theory? Wouldn’t it be better to ignore some things because they just don’t make any sense?

That beard is putting me off my stroke.

The photo is a still from a documentary called “Walking with Cavemen”. Yes, they were supposed to be old. They presumably have fit bodies because getting a real 50 year old to wear all that makeup in tropical Africa was difficult. I don’t see any dark body hair, but even if there were, that’s not unusual. Few people go grey over their entire bodies at once.

The background is supposed to be, actually is, a soda lake. The white stuff on their bodes is mud form the lake.

Look at the guy’s chest. That’s dark body hair. If this is from a seriously intended documentary and not just a crazy artist’s vision, that’s worse. If instead of getting sixty-year-olds to play the old people in the documentary they just put some dye in the hair of thirty-year-olds, that’s really sloppy. And why are they so fair-skinned? This is supposed to be in Africa before mankind left that continent. Everybody should be more dark-skinned.

People, people. This is in the Daily Mail - scientific accuracy, or even relevence to the story, was not the main consideration when the sub-editor asked for an illustration. :smiley:

I say again: I can’t see it. I think perhaps you are mistaking mud/dirt for hair. You can see a more detailed pictures of the same actors here and here and here. Lots of mud and dirt. No body hair that I can see. Maybe I’m missing it.

Meh. All the actual paleontologists raved over the accuracy of the doco.

No, it’s really legal and really practical. As I explained above, if you put an actual sixty year old in that makeup under the African sun you would probably be up on a manslaughter charge. A criminal trial really slows down the pace of shooting.

Why? One thing all paleontologists agree on is that we have absolutely no idea what colour even early H. sapiens were, much less ancestral species. What inside line have you got that allows you to know what colour they were?

Those people have much darker skin than a chimpanzee, in fact they’re slightly darker than the typical Khoi san, who are actual modern H. sapiens who’s ancestors have actually lived in Africa for millions of years.

So why do you believe that the ancestors of the Khoi can must have had darker skin than the Khoi san themsleves, despite living in exactly the same environment with a very similar lifestyle?

The photo isn’t from the daily mail, it’s from a BBC documentary. And a well respected, well researched BBC documentary at that. If the makeup included a beard you can bet your bottom dollar it’s because the consulting palaeontologists specifically told them to put it there, and that they in turn had good reason for doing so.

Yeah, I’ve got to concur with Blake on this one. The entire ‘Walking with…’ series has a pretty well-regarded scientific consensus behind it. The effort and consultation was put in to make the pieces as accurate as possible.

They look dark enough to this Khoisan.

Not necessarily. As with all such documentaries they have to fill in the blanks by a mixture of guesswork and what looks interesting on TV. Remember the total evidence is the fossilised bones of a few tens of individuals and a limited number of associated stone tools. There is a summary of the - very limited - evidence on which this particular episode of *Walking with Cavemen *was based on the BBC website.

Having said that I stand by my view that the Daily Mail did not consider greatly the scientific accuracy when choosing that picture to illustrate their story. I can see two other obvious reasons for their choice!

Okay, so from that BBC link this is supposed to beH. eragaster. (Which might really not be a different species than H. erectus) Tall, thin, long limbed. From the head down supposed to look pretty much like H. sapiens and with little body hair by most experts beliefs, and by those experts felt to have consequently developed more melanin and sweat glands. How much more melanin? No one knows.

Facial hair? Well when did facial hair sexual dimorphism begin and more to the point, why? If the environment was such that body hair loss was an advantage, why keep facial for either sex, and why keep it in one gender and not the other? Maybe if we understand why that dimorphism exists in H. sapiens we could make a guess as to whether or not it would have developed within the time of H. eragaster.

Meanwhile my guess is that the crew chose to do female facial hair as an easy make-up means of making the face of an otherwise attractive and very sapiens female look “primitive” - and it could have been just as well as not.

They didn’t want anyone to know they were lesbians.

I suspect it’s similar to how we “know” that T-Rex had brown scales. It’s not unreasonable given what we know and infer, but we don’t know for certain. (In fact, with T-Rex there seems to be some debate over whether it was scales or feathers, let alone what color).

Ultimately, an artist has to go with some combination of “scientifically plausible” and “looks good” knowing full well that virtually whatever is produced will be substantially wrong.