What Ever Happened to Human Fur Genes?

In all the unending discussion of evolution, I don’t recall ever having heard why humans don’t have nice slick coats of fur of their very own, and instead, look more related to naked earthworms than to hairy apes. Eternal bad-hair day?

Ray (In the summer of La Niña, it’s cold out there on the Pacific Seaboard.)

Ummm, all those genes were co-opted by Robin Williams and Alec Baldwin?

Maybe all that hair protein turned into brains?

Mainstream theory: We lost most of our hair so our ancestors could sweat better chasing down game on the African savannah.

Alternate theory: Our hominid ancestors went through a phase where they were semi-aquatic, spending a lot of time swimming; and so they lost most of their hair the same way dolphins have. Search “The Aquatic Ape” for more info.

We might have started losing it when it was no longer a benefit, and it wasn’t selected * for* any longer. Man started wearing animal skins to cover his vulnerable parts. Possibly it could have been weeded out by artificial selection: the females started disliking hairy men, and preferred to mate with less hairy men.

I read a book that proposed that as man moved slowly northward, we could absorb less and less vitamin D from the weaker sunlight, and started losing our hair in effort to absorb more through our skins. It was a lot more complex than that, but I’m too lazy to go fetch my copy of Our Kind by Marvin Harris.

I don’t remember where I read this, but I seem to recall that humans don’t really have less hair than apes, it’s just not as thick.

Some anthropoligist or other was addressing the question of “If we descended from apes, how come we aren’t hairy.” His response “Who cares about the production? We have the same number of factories!”

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So if my brain isn’t accomplishing a lot these days, can I turn some of its proteins back into hair?


Other mammals chase better than we do and yet retain a full coat of hair/fur.

Otters, particular sea otters, along with seals, sea lions, sea elephants or whatever do no doubt much more swimming than man’s ancestor’s ever did and yet retain full-body hair, although maybe shorter, hair than some mammals.


So you think man started wearing animal pelts before he lost his hair? And he, as opposed to all others spent more time erect, making vulnerable parts more vulnerable?

Seems more males *today * would shun hairy females than the other way around.

Many other hairy species moved north without losing their hair, some no doubt growing more hair, e.g., the hairy mammoth. And the people who never left the tropical areas of Africa tend to have less hair than those who moved up to the Caucasus.


Some people don’t have bigger heads; they’re just thicker. Is how it works? :wink:


This refers to the same number of hair follicles? So evolution doesn’t care deal in a free market?

Well, my paternal grandfather was ‘Harry’, but the name was never passed down.

Actually, what I think happened was that the shower drains in those caves weren’t all that great, and they kept getting plugged up with human hair all the time. So, in order to keep the cave floors dry, parents threw all the harriest kids out to the wolves. Eventually, then, more kids had less hair; and, in fact, by the time someone invented the plumber’s friend (I forget his name), most people were already pretty naked. You think I should publish this theory? If deja.com archives the SD Message Board, I guess I already have.

Ray (Shornuff – and un-fur-gotten.)

Actually, it depends on what you mean by “chase better”. There are plenty of animals that can, for a time, run faster than a man, but a man can chase almost anything down, given time.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

I will gladly take anyone’s excessive hair gene off their dna and splice it into mine.

Thanks from a hirsute afficianado,

The sci-fi author L. Sprague De Camp once wrote a story called ‘Hyperpiliosity’ that dealt with this topic. Find it in “The Best Of L. Sprague De Camp”
I can recommend it highly!