Why Do Native People Have Little Body Hair?
Have you ever noticed that native people seem to have less body hair than those with other ancestries? While it’s true that everyone’s hairiness is determined in part by genes, there are some evolutionary theories that might explain why native people may have fewer body hairs than some other groups.
The first factor to consider is genetics. Certain ethnicities historically evolved in areas where low body hair was an advantage, such as:
- The Inuit people of the Arctic regions
- Certain tribes of the Australian Aborigines
- Certain tribes of Africa
- The Asiatic-American peoples of the Northwest
These groups either lived in cooler climates, where a lack of body hair might help regulate body temperature, or lived in desert climates, where having less body hair would have allowed for cooler air circulation.
Environmental Selective Pressure
Another theory suggests that over time, certain genomes that coded for lighter body hair became dominant due to environmental selective pressure. In other words, those with less body hair were better adapted to their environments than those with more body hair, and so the populations with less body hair continued to thrive.
Lastly, it’s possible that certain evolutionary biases played a role in the development of less body hair. For example, those with less body hair may have been found more attractive or had a greater chance of successful mating, and so their genes were passed on more frequently, eventually leading to dominant populations of lighter body hair.
Ultimately, why natives have less body hair is still unclear, but it’s likely the combination of these factors played a role in the evolution of this trait. Whether it’s an environmental advantage for certain groups, an evolutionary bias, or a combination of both, it’s an interesting aspect of human variations that scientists are continuing to explore.
4. How does the adaptation of lack of body hair compare to that of other primates?
Humans are unique in their adaptation of lacking a coat of body hair or fur, compared to other primates. Other primates, such as the great apes, possess a thick coat of fur, while humans and some other primates, such as bonobos, lack a coat of fur or body hair. This is likely due to the varying climates and habitats humans evolved in (such as very hot climates) and their physiological changes to better tolerate and survive in said climates. Other primates, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, may have adapted a fur or body hair to aid with insulation and temperature control in colder climates.
5. Does the lack of body hair among native populations confer any advantage or disadvantage?
The lack of body hair in some indigenous populations can confer some benefits. First, decreased hair on the body can lead to fewer occurrences of infections, lice, and other organisms that live in body hair. Additionally, it is easier to maintain body temperature when hair is more dispersed, rather than in thicker bundles. This can help regulate temperature in hot climates, and the decreased hair can allow for evaporative cooling on the skin’s surface, helping people cool down faster. Finally, some athletes and others engaged in physical activity may find less body hair preferable as it decreases stickiness and associated sweat on the body.
The lack of body hair can also have some disadvantages. People with lighter skin may be more susceptible to environmental skin damage without the protection of body hair, as the sun’s rays can more easily penetrate the skin. Additionally, because body hair acts to trap sweat, in warmer climates it can provide more comfort and prevent an over-heating of the body.