Human evolution Intelligent Design

Smithsonian: We really don’t know why humans don’t have fur

Spread the love
Correct explanation: Humans would never look after their fur properly, which is why they don’t have any/Greg Hume (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Some genomics experts and molecular biologists are looking into it. But apart from that, it has remained the province of evolution storytelling:

Evolutionary theorists have put forth numerous hypotheses for why humans became the naked mole rats of the primate world. Did we adapt to semi-aquatic environments? Does bare skin help us sweat to keep cool while hunting during the heat of the day? Did we lose our fur to read each other’s emotional responses such as fuming or blushing? Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but biologists are beginning to understand the physical mechanism that makes humans the naked apes. In particular, a recent study in the journal Cell Reports has begun to depilate the mystery at the molecular and genetic level.

Sarah Millar, co-senior author of the new study and a dermatology professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, explains that scientists are largely at a loss to explain why different hair patterns appear across human bodies. “We have really long hair on our scalps and short hair in other regions, and we’re hairless on our palms and the underside of our wrists and the soles of our feet,” she says. “No one understands really at all how these differences arise.” Jason Daley, “Why Did Humans Lose Their Fur?” at Smithsonian Magazine

The theories you can read about at the link are as creative as you might expect.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: Claim: Sweating made humans the dominant species on Earth

and

Astrobiologist: Are humans freaks of nature?

22 Replies to “Smithsonian: We really don’t know why humans don’t have fur

  1. 1
    Ed George says:

    All I know is that everyone I know, my wife included, thinks that I would look better covered in fur. And we are not talking about mink or ermine.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    According to Michael Denton’s paper (and video), the fact that we do not have fur is actually another proof, (via optimal ‘evaporative cooling’), for the “Anthropocentric Thesis”:

    Dr. Michael Denton Interview
    Excerpt Question 14: 14. Q: ,,,you also detail that nature isn’t fine-tuned for just any kind of life, but life specifically like human life. Would you expound on this for our readers?
    A: there are certain elements of the fine-tuning which are clearly for advanced being like ourselves.
    We are warm-blooded, terrestrial aerobes; we use oxidation to get energy, we’re warm-blooded and we breathe air. We get our oxygen from the air. First of all, a warm-blooded organism needs to maintain a constant temperature. To do that we are massively assisted by the high specific heat of water, which buffers our body against rapid changes in temperature. In getting rid of excess heat, we utilize the evaporative cooling of water. That’s why dog’s pant, we sweat, etc. Warm-blooded organisms have to get rid of excess heat, and the evaporative cooling of water is the only way you’ve really got to get rid of heat when the temperature reaches close to body temperature. When it’s hot you can’t radiate off body heat to the environment.
    These critical thermal properties are obviously of great utility to air breathing, warm-blooded organisms like our self. But what relevance do they have to an extremophile living in the deep ocean, or a cold-blooded fish living in the sea? It’s obvious that these are elements of fitness in nature which seem to be of great and specific utility to beings like us, and very little utility to a lot of other organisms. Of course it is the case that they are playing a role in maintaining the constancy of global climate, the physical and chemical constancy of the hydrosphere and so forth. No doubt the evaporative cooling of water plays a big role in climatic amelioration; it transfers heat from the tropics to the higher latitudes and this is of utility for all life on earth. But definitely water’s thermal properties seem particularly fit for advanced organisms of biology close to our own.

    And even the freezing of water from the top down rather than the bottom up, which conserves large bodies of fresh water on the earth, is again relevant to large organisms. Bacterial cells can withstand quite well periodically freezing. And for unicellular organisms living in the hot sub surface rocks its pretty well irrelevant. In other words the top down freezing and the consequent preservation of liquid water is of much more utility for a large organism, but of far less relevance for microbial life.
    Or consider the generation and utilization of oxygen. We use oxygen, but many organisms don’t use oxygen; for a lot of organisms it’s a poison. So how do we get our oxygen? When we look at the conditions in the universe for photosynthesis, we find a magical collusion between of all sorts of different elements of fitness. First of all the atmospheric gases let through visual light which has got the right energy for biochemistry, for photosynthesis. And what are the gases in the atmosphere that let through the light? Well, carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen, and nitrogen. And what are the basic reactants which are involved in photosynthesis? Well, oxygen, water, and CO2. The same compounds that let through the light are also the main ‘players’ in photosynthesis.
    And then you might wonder what about the harmful radiations? UV, Gamma rays, microwaves? Well to begin with the sun only puts out most of its electromagnetic radian energy in the visual region (light) and near infrared (heat) and puts out very little in the dangerous regions (UV’s, gamma rays, X-rays etc.). And wonder on wonder, the atmospheric gases absorb all these harmful radiations. And so on and on and on, one anthropocentric biofriendly coincidence after another. And what provides the necessary warmth for photosynthesis, indeed for all life on earth. What keeps the average temperature of the earth above freezing? Well water vapor and carbon dioxide. If it wasn’t for water vapor and CO2 in the atmosphere the temperature of the earth would be -33 centigrade.
    Now when you consider all these factors necessary for the generation of oxygen via photosynthesis knowing that not all organisms use oxygen implying that all these coincidences are irrelevant to the vast majority of all species (most of the biomass on the planet may well be anaerobic unicellular life occupying the hot deep biosphere in the sub surface rocks) never use oxygen, its clear that the special fitness of nature for oxygen utilization is for us.
    http://successfulstudent.org/d.....interview/

    Sweating is an essential and uniquely human function – August 28, 2017
    Excerpt: Most furry mammals pant to regulate their body temperature. Other animals, like ectotherms — lizards, amphibians, and insects — have other behaviors that help keep them cool. Humans, however, are in a category of our own.
    We are the only mammal that relies on secreting water onto the surface of our skin to stay cool: We call it sweating. But how did we develop this ability?,,,
    … Our closest primate relatives — chimpanzees and gorillas — dump excess body heat by panting,,,,
    Humans are not the only species that sweat, but our sweat differs from other species, Kamberov notes. Humans have sweat glands that secrete water onto the surface of the skin. Horses also sweat, but they have a different type of gland common in running animals. These are called apocrine glands, and they’re associated with the hair on a horse’s body.
    “What they secrete is not water, but actually rather a mixture of water, lipids, fats [and] proteins,” Kamberov explains. “It’s a different kind of sweating; it’s a different substance that’s being secreted. The horse’s main mechanism to cool off is [still] going to be panting.”
    https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-08-28/sweating-essential-and-uniquely-human-function

    The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis – Michael J. Denton – February 25, 2013
    Excerpt page 6: Water
    The fitness of the thermal properties of water for life were first discussed by Whewell in his Bridgewater Treatise [47], and later touched on by Wallace [2: ch. 7]. In The Fitness, Henderson pointed out that water’s high thermal capacity assists in the maintenance of a constant body temperature in warm-blooded organisms [3: p. 89], while its high evaporative cooling greatly assists terrestrial warm-blooded organisms in losing heat when the ambient temperature approaches 38°C. As he put it:
    “In an animal like man, whose metabolism is very intense, heat is a most prominent excretory product, which has constantly to be eliminated in great amounts, and to this end only three important means are available: conduction, radiation and the evaporation of water … At a low temperature there is little evaporation of water, but at body temperature or above there can be no loss of heat at all by conduction and radiation, and the whole burden is therefore thrown on evaporation. [3: p. 102;]”,,,
    Summary (page 11)
    Many of the properties of the key members of Henderson’s vital ensemble —water, oxygen, CO2, HCO3 —are in several instances fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves. These include the thermal properties of water, its low viscosity, the gaseous nature of oxygen and CO2 at ambient temperatures, the inertness of oxygen at ambient temperatures, and the bicarbonate buffer, with its anomalous pKa value and the elegant means of acid-base regulation it provides for air-breathing organisms. Some of their properties are irrelevant to other classes of organisms or even maladaptive.
    It is very hard to believe there could be a similar suite of fitness for advanced carbon-based life forms. If carbon-based life is all there is, as seems likely, then the design of any active complex terrestrial being would have to closely resemble our own. Indeed the suite of properties of water, oxygen, and CO2 together impose such severe constraints on the design and functioning of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems that their design, even down to the details of capillary and alveolar structure can be inferred from first principles. For complex beings of high metabolic rate, the designs actualized in complex Terran forms are all that can be. There are no alternative physiological designs in the domain of carbon-based life that can achieve the high metabolic activity manifest in man and other higher organisms.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2013.1

    Privileged Species – video (2015) (13:29 minute mark; water’s thermal properties, 15:00 minute mark; evaporative cooling is optimal for humans in particular)
    https://youtu.be/VoI2ms5UHWg?t=809

  3. 3
    asauber says:

    Of course, our delicate cat Hazel, despite her well-maintained fur coat, likes to lay on the heat register because evidently she’s not warm enough.

    Andrew

  4. 4
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    We may not be covered with it, but we humans have some hair in some really inconvenient, useless, annoying places on our bodies.

    I am not convinced there is a creator, but if one appeared before me and convinced me he was my creator, I would have some harsh words with him about this.

  5. 5
    ET says:

    Pater- Blame genetic entropy. We are not the originally designed humans

  6. 6
    vmahuna says:

    Lo! these many years ago I read that humans are “designed” (evolved?) to REST during the heat of the day. So I’m not sure how nakedism works with a claim that ancient humans hunted during the heat of the day and so shed their hair. The sunburns must have been TERRIBLE.

    Also, an interesting historical note, up until the “Dark Ages” (a period of IMMENSE social and scientific ADVANCES), Mediterranean peoples worked ONLY from dawn until noon, or whenever it got hot. They then took THE REST OF THE DAY off. During the Dark Ages, North Europeans easily DOUBLED worker productivity by the simple step of going BACK to work AFTER “supper” (the BIG meal of the day, served noonish, but often lasting more than an hour).

    I read “The Naked Ape” lo! these many decades ago and can’t remember whether Desmond Morris comes down firmly on any LOGIC for humans being less hairy than chimps. But it sure makes it EASY to SPOT a human near a bunch of chimps or gorillas.

    Even more questionable is the fact that human head hair and male beards NEVER stop growing. So prior to the invention of the Knife, humans would have had hair down to their *ss and men-folk would be tripping over their beards, which must also have gotten in the way of chucking spears and such.

    But some ’60s wisdom from the Cowsills, man:

    Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair
    Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen
    Give me down to there, HAIR!, shoulder length or longer
    Here, baby, there, momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy

    I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
    Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
    Oily, greasy, fleecy, shining
    Gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen
    Knotted, polka dotted, twisted, beaded, braided
    Powdered, flowered and confettied
    Bangled, tangled, spangled and sphagettied

    Oh say, can you see my eyes
    If you can
    Then my hair’s too short

    Down to here, down to there
    Down to where
    It stops by itself

  7. 7
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    ET:

    And did this “genetic entropy” also put the tiny erector pili muscles on each hair, which causes them to stand up when we are cold?

    A function which is useless for us now, but would make sense for us to still have remnants of, if we inherited it from distant ancestors that were covered in fur.

    Were these “originally designed humans” you speak of covered in fur?

  8. 8
    ET says:

    Pater K:

    And did this “genetic entropy” also put the tiny erector pili muscles on each hair, which causes them to stand up when we are cold?

    It’s a package deal- the hair come with the tiny erector pili.

    A function which is useless for us now, but would make sense for us to still have remnants of, if we inherited it from distant ancestors that were covered in fur.

    That function is useless but that isn’t the only function.

    Were these “originally designed humans” you speak of covered in fur?

    Doubtful. They were definitely upright bipeds

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    When an atheist’s Theological argument against God has descended to the level of complaining about having hair in weird places, I do believe the bottom of the proverbial Theological debating barrel has been reached and scrapped completely dry.

  10. 10
    Ed George says:

    BA77@9, I hope you realize that PK was just having some fun with his comment at 4. And I would like to add, what is the purpose of the hairs that I am now growing in my ears, or the ones in my eyebrows that grow longer than the others, and the ones on my backside? ????

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    EG, so you hold that PK was only ‘having some fun’ about scrapping the bottom of the Theological debating barrel with his complaining about having hair in weird places comment, but you, instead of joking, are serious about scrapping the bottom of the Theological debating barrel with your complaining about having hair in weird places?

    🙂

    And how does that possibly negate my observation that complaining about having hair in weird places is scrapping the bottom of the Theological debating barrel?

    Perhaps next you want to disbelieve in God because of a wart on your big toe? Or because you have to wipe yourself after using the restroom? Or because of etc. etc..?

    All these types of arguments, (i.e. the argument from imperfection and/or the argument from evil), have the same fundamental flaw in that they are all Theologically based arguments that presuppose some objectively real standard of perfection and or goodness that has been departed from.

    In other words, these types of arguments are all self-refuting in that they presuppose the existence of God in order to try to argue against the existence of God.

    It is much the same self-refuting flaw as seen in the Atheist’s argument that the universe has no ultimate meaning and/or purpose.

    As CS Lewis pointed out, in order to for the Atheist to argue that the universe has no meaning, the atheist must assume the universe has meaning in the first place.

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?,,,
    ,,, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist–in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless–I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice–was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”
    – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. Harper San Francisco, Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, pp. 38-39.

    Atheistic Materialism vs Meaning, Value, and Purpose in Our Lives – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUxBSbFhog

    Darwinian Atheists, going back to Darwin himself, in their Theologically based arguments against God, are forever like the “child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face”

    “Hawking’s entire argument is built upon theism. He is, as Cornelius Van Til put it, like the child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face.
    Take that part about the “human mind” for example. Under atheism there is no such thing as a mind. There is no such thing as understanding and no such thing as truth. All (Stephen) Hawking is left with is a box, called a skull, which contains a bunch of molecules.
    Hawking needs God in order to deny Him.”
    – Cornelius Hunter –

    Humorous photo of an atheist contemplating his own mind
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H-kj.....0/rob4.jpg

    Verse:

    Isaiah 45:7
    I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.

  12. 12
    Ed George says:

    BA77

    EG, so you hold that PK was only ‘having some fun’ about scrapping the bottom of the Theological debating barrel with his complaining about having hair in weird places comment, but you, instead of joking, are serious about scrapping the bottom of the Theological debating barrel with your complaining about having hair in weird places?

    If you prefer to take his comment seriously and take offence at it, that is your choice. But, as Freud once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” I found his comment humorous and am perfectly happy to laugh at it and move on.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    I find all of PK’s comments humorous and I laugh at them all. 😉

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Seems a serious enough issue with me since he ‘joked’ that he had ‘harsh words’ for God because of such inept Theological argumentation.

    The fate of an eternal soul is no laughing matter for me.

  15. 15
    Ed George says:

    BA77

    Seems a serious enough issue with me since he ‘joked’ that he had ‘harsh words’ for God because of such inept Theological argumentation.

    God gave us a sense of humour for a reason. I guess mine is just more highly developed than yours. 🙂

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    “I guess mine is just more highly developed than yours.”

    Spiritually speaking, I consider it crude and cheap bathroom humor.

  17. 17
    Ed George says:

    BA77

    Spiritually speaking, I consider it crude and cheap bathroom humor.

    To each his own. I see nothing wrong with this type humour. It is ultimately laughing at ourselves. And if we can’t laugh at ourselves then this world is in poor shape.

  18. 18
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    Ed:

    BA77 seems much more eager to defend a capricious and possibly incompetent creator than he is to defend ET’s logic.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Pater Kimbridge, and exactly how are you able to judge God as ‘capricious and possibly incompetent’ without first having an objectively real transcendent standard to judge by?

    In your argument against God, like all atheists before you, you will forever be sawing off the ‘judgmental’ branch of what is good and evil on which you are trying to sit.

    To repeat what CS Lewis stated:

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?,,,
    ,,, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist–in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless–I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice–was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”
    – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. Harper San Francisco, Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, pp. 38-39.

    It even gets much worse for atheists when we examine the details inherent in your worldview.

    Your atheistic worldview simply collapses in on itself at every turn.

    Atheistic Materialism vs Meaning, Value, and Purpose in Our Lives – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUxBSbFhog

    To repeat:

    Darwinian Atheists, going back to Darwin himself, in their Theologically based arguments against God, are forever like the “child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face”

    “Hawking’s entire argument is built upon theism. He is, as Cornelius Van Til put it, like the child who must climb up onto his father’s lap into order to slap his face.
    Take that part about the “human mind” for example. Under atheism there is no such thing as a mind. There is no such thing as understanding and no such thing as truth. All (Stephen) Hawking is left with is a box, called a skull, which contains a bunch of molecules.
    Hawking needs God in order to deny Him.”
    – Cornelius Hunter –

    Humorous photo of an atheist contemplating his own mind
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H-kj.....0/rob4.jpg

    Verse:

    Isaiah 45:7
    I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things.

    Since you have no theological basis in which to provide a foundation for your ancient ‘argument from evil’, I am more than happy to debate the ‘logic’ of the science behind Darwinism.

    Let’s start with the fact that Darwinian evolution has no rigid falsification criteria that Darwinists will accept so as to clearly delineate Darwinism as a science instead of a pseudoscience.

    That is to say that Darwinism, at least how Darwinist treat their theory, does not even qualify as a science in the first place.

    Charles Darwin himself listed (at least) four lines of evidence that could potentially falsify his theory.

    “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”
    –Charles Darwin, Origin of Species – 1860 – pg 189

    “to the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer.” So “the case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained.”
    – Charles Darwin – Origin of Species – 1860 – pg 308
    https://evolutionnews.org/2009/04/coyne_and_the_meaning_of_evolu/

    “If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection.”
    – Charles Darwin, Origin of Species – 1866 – pg. 241

    “The foregoing remarks lead me to say a few words on the protest lately made by some naturalists, against the utilitarian doctrine that every detail of structure has been produced for the good of its possessor. They believe that very many structures have been created for beauty in the eyes of man, or for mere variety. This doctrine, if true, would be absolutely fatal to my theory.”
    – Charles Darwin Origin of Species – 1859 – pg. 199

    All four of those falsification criteria, laid out by Charles Darwin himself, have now been met:
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/from-barren-planet-to-civilization-in-four-easy-steps/#comment-666034

    Yet, even though all those falsification criteria have been met, Darwinists still refuse to accept the results as falsification of their theory. Thus proving once again that, in regards to Darwinian evolution, we are dealing with a pseudoscience rather than a real science

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”.
    – Karl R. Popper

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rzw0JkuKuQ

  20. 20
    ET says:

    Pater K:

    BA77 seems much more eager to defend a capricious and possibly incompetent creator than he is to defend ET’s logic.

    I can easily defend what I post. You cannot defend what you post.

    And the more likely scenario is incompetent humans. You are a fine example of that. 😛

  21. 21
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    Moderators:

    ET seems to be attacking me personally.

    Is that not grounds for dismissal?

  22. 22
    ET says:

    Oops, I forgot. It is only OK for Pater to attack others.

    My bad. 😛

Leave a Reply