Remember the post from yesterday that claims that it might have been the bugs that caused humans to lose their fur? Well, that item just lost shelf space to this one: In “Hairier is better – bedbugs bite our barest bits” (New Scientist Short Sharp Science, 14 December 2011), we learn that fine hairs do help deter insects:
“Men have more body hair than women, which is caused by the action of testosterone at puberty,” says Siva-Jothy. “This does not necessarily mean that women are more likely to be bitten. Blood-sucking insects are likely to have been selected to prefer to bite hosts in relatively hairless areas.”
So whatever is going on, Darwin explained it.
Question: What if comparative human hairlessness actually resulted from a genetic bottleneck in a period in which hair was not an especial asset or detriment – say, long ago on the African savannah? Thus humans emerged with little hair and chimps emerged with lots of hair (because they had already diverged from humans, and did not go through the same bottleneck.) If explanations like this turn out to have merit, we would be spared a lot of fanciful (maybe contradictory) tales about bugs and stuff.
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