Why aren't Eskimos hairy?

While out this weekend with some friends, evolution came up and one of my religious friends who doesn’t believe in evolution came up with, “If evolution worked how come Eskimos aren’t hairy?” My first response was a chuckle, but after that I didn’t know how to counter this argument. I reminded him that just because I personally don’t have all the answers, it doesn’t mean there must have been a creator who “poofed” everything into existence. But I do wish I would have had the right comeback to his question. Does anyone know? How come people from colder climates haven’t evolved to be more hirsute?

Presumably, by the time anyone thought to actually live in such a harsh climate, they already had the technology for making sufficiently warm clothing, and the art of firemaking, so they didn’t need to evolve heavier natural insulation. Perhaps one of the earliest cases of technology short-circuiting evolution.

They do tend to be more stocky than similar groups of people in warmer climes, since a more compact body loses heat more slowly. So there is some evolutionary pressure at work.

Um, maybe you should ask you friend why an intelligent and benevolent creator didn’t think to give the poor eskimos more hair…

… or even better, fur!

The master speaks.

This really is a good question, being that more body hair is a natural adaption to a colder climate.

Eskimos are known for their squat bodies, which tend to conserve heat. Therefore, they already have adapted to the cold in some ways.

Could the eskimos lack of body hair(despite the cold weather) be caused by their genetic closeness to Asians? Asians are known for their lack of body hair. Could it be that the Eskimos did not have enough time in the colder clime to overcome their genes which do not have a strong body hair component? Eskimos and other American Indians have only been in this country for around 15,000 years, this may not have been enough time to adapt to the climate.

According to the article by Cecil, Eskimos have gone through alot of evolutionary changes to deal with the cold; so why wasn’t getting hairier one of them?

Human body hair, even on the magnificently hirsute, is far too thin to be an effective method of retaining heat. Thick body hair on us folks thus tends to not get selected for as a survival trait. Now as a fashion statement, that would be a different story.

Another thing to consider, is that evolution relies on chance to a great extent.

First you would have to have a person born with an amount of body hair that actually makes a difference to their survival and susceptibility to the cold. This trait would then have to be selected for, and then passed on to future generation. With out that first mutation, things can’t go anywhere from that.

Like **Q.E.D. **, said, with the invention of insulation clothing, pressure to select for natural forms of insulation in the form of hair just wasn’t all that important anymore.

Qadgop the Mercotan
And further, perhaps contrary to expectation, facial hair (which correlates with general hairiness) is actually counter-productive in extreme cold because it collects ice condensed from your breath and can hide signs of frostbite.

You can cut the BS on this thread like a hot comb on nappy hair. Doesn’t matter that its 15 years old… are the original thread members still alive??

First off, just because a person doesn’t believe in evolution and instead believes in a religion doesn’t mean that they believe a creator “poofed” everything into existence. That is an exaggerated stereotype that is applied to a broad range of ideologies that sets to undermine any intellectual discussion using ad hominem to belittle anything that goes against the theory of evolution. For example, there are a large number of theologians that actually believe in evolution… they believe that God set the ball in motion for evolution to take place.

Regardless, there are three main scientific explanations as to why humans lost their body hair (it used to be much thicker), and one of them is in regards to temperature (the other two are sexual attraction and anti-aquatic reasons). So the opposite can be said - body hair would become thicker as an adaptation to cold temperature. So it would actually be selected as a survival trait if needed.

Siberians are ancestors of Asians and they live in extremely cold environments yet they aren’t covered in body hair or facial hair (just like North American Innuits). Body hair and facial hair is not counter-productive to extreme cold environments because hair offers insulation. Polar bears are hairy and even if they get wet the hair provides insulation. They are also large because a larger body-mass-to-surface ratio provides more insulation than the opposite. Innuits are not short and stocky… the children are very short and thin. Tribal elders are short and thin. It is only in the 20th century that Innuits have become “chubby” (for lack of a better word) due to their diets containing mostly processed foods… it has nothing to do with the cold weather, clothing, or natural selection. Being able to make a fire and wear clothing would not stop a person from growing facial hair. Something like that would take THOUSANDS of years to change. Adaptations to the environment do not occur overnight. And Eskimos not growing facial hair is not evolution. Smh was it not possible to do research on the internet in 2003 when this conversation was started???

Hirsute is an adjective!

That’s not true. I’m an ice fisherman, so I am used to spending 12 hours out in sub-zero Fahrenheit weather. I have had a beard at various lengths and styles. I can assure you with 100 per cent certainty, that a thick beard is incredibly good at retaining heat. I don’t even have to bother with a scarf or face mask when I grow it to winter length of 3-4 inches. The corollary to this is that during a storm you want to keep it dry or it cakes up with ice and then it becomes impossible to warm your face.

Why this dichotomy? Isn’t it possible that all matter was brought into existence out of nothing by the ultimate source (the one we call “God”), and that after matter was brought into existence, life and diversity evolved from there? Evolution does not disprove God, anymore than God’s existence disproves evolution.

Was there ever a time when every organism on earth was prefectly suited to its environment? The theory of evolution would say no - it is a process.

Also, if you can survive well enough to reproduce, science doesn’t care how comfortable you are.

Wow, talk about BS. If a person doesn’t believe in evolution, what is their explanation for how life forms got to where they are today? The only alternative I’ve heard is “intelligent design” which is a dressed-up way of saying “poof”.

But that is not the same thing as saying “a person doesn’t believe in evolution.”

The GD aspect of this is that evolution does not require God. It doesn’t mean there can’t be a God, but many religious people seem to be threatened by the concept of evolution.

Only 15% of mainline Protestants don’t believe in evolution. Just sayin’.

But every one of those 15% seem to come here to say “poof.”

I’m not sure how many mainlines we have here. I’m the only one that I know for sure. There seem to be some Evanglicals and a few Catholics floating about. I would assume that we have to have a few mainlines, but the problem with mainlines is that you never know who they are. They don’t usually spend a lot of time talking about religion. To be honest, I’m not sure why I do. I don’t typically in real life, but I guess message boards provide fun places to write down your thoughts.

That’s facial hair. If you read what you quoted me saying, you should note that I spoke about body hair, not facial hair. Facial hair is far thicker than body hair (at least on some individuals).

Moderator Note

dredwick, you are new here. Let’s keep the snark out of General Questions. No warning issued, but let’s keep it civil.

General Questions Moderator