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June 9, 2003 2:02 AM   Subscribe

Early humans lost hair to beat parasites? (New Scientist) - Human nakedness, a species anomaly among mammals, draws comparisons to the blind, naked mole rat. Meanwhile, seven thousand humans (Italians) recently gathered naked, for unclear purposes.
posted by troutfishing (17 comments total)
Actually, I believe those were Spanish humans. And two Canadians that I know of.
posted by rocketpup at 2:08 AM on June 9, 2003

Combined with out down-turned nostrils I think it may have rather more to do with swimming as our diet changed from fruit salad to sushi.
posted by nthdegx at 3:44 AM on June 9, 2003

I'm relatively hirsute. Not back-hairy, or beard-down-the-neck, or anything of the kind. Relentlessly average in the fuzziness category.

In summer, when, thanks to the miserable climate of which Koreans are so inordinately and inexplicably proud, I am forced to roll up my sleeves (or heavens forbid, wear short-sleeved shirts), children (and many adults) are led to stare, goggle-eyed, at my light-haired forearms when standing at crosswalks, for example.

My Korean wife, who has the lightest, loveliest down on her forearms, is deeply ashamed of the fact, and ignores my claims that it is highly appealing to me. She was ridiculed throughout her childhood for it, and has been told since she was old enough to remember by both friends and media that it is hideous and simian.

Most Korean men I know, and the overwhelming majority of women, have not even the slightest bit of fur on their arms or elsewhere other than (extrapolating here, for the most part) the limb-torso intersections where one would expect it.

So, in a roundabout way, I'm wondering : did they have worse parasites over here in Asia, or what?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:37 AM on June 9, 2003

posted by nthdegx at 4:50 AM on June 9, 2003

I know a chinese girl who, despite being in her early thirties, does not have any armpit hair.

I didn't ask about the other limb-torso intersections - I thought that might come across as too forward.
posted by spazzm at 5:09 AM on June 9, 2003

I'm curious; when did back-hair gather such social stigma? Seems like it makes everyone wince (or laugh.) Why?
posted by Fofer at 6:24 AM on June 9, 2003


I'm not really sure of when, but take a look at a beach some time. You'll hardly see a guy with any chest hair at all. When I was in high school shaving yourself was seen as feminine (not that I really agree with stigmatizing it, or anything for that matter) unless you were one bad-assed swimmer on the swim team. I graduated from high school in 1987.

In fact one of the common slights against body builders at the time were that they spent so much time depilating themselves, therefore they must be gay.
posted by substrate at 6:45 AM on June 9, 2003

Humans aren't "hairless" or "naked" at all! Our hair is even more densely concentrated than our Chimp cousins! Its just that our hair has a finer texture!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:57 AM on June 9, 2003

This article leads me to assume that bald men are the most highly evolved of our species.
posted by rks404 at 7:05 AM on June 9, 2003

Great post. It combines an interesting science story with an interesting art story.

It makes me wonder what the future holds for the human race, in terms of physical appearance. We have basically bypassed a lot of natural selection with technology so it's harder to try to guess what will happen.

If the Earth heats up, we won't have to evolve to handle the heat and UV, we'll just make some tech advancement that makes the evolution unnecessary.

Maybe genomics science will progress to the point one day where we can enter a genome and then enter factors to take into account (high heat, UV rays, lower oxygen levels, space environments, etc) and just run it to see what sort of creatures we could evolve into after a few million years.
posted by lockle at 7:10 AM on June 9, 2003

...for unclear purposes.

The naked people art of Spencer Tunick.

It takes a talented person to organize and direct photography like that. (I mean would you crouch down so some stranger's ugly butt was right up in your face like that?)
posted by dgaicun at 7:22 AM on June 9, 2003

self-link to my recent (losing) battle with too much hair. I know I probably shouldn't care, but society does not seem to love the hair.
posted by willnot at 10:02 AM on June 9, 2003

I haven't read your story yet, willnot, but your first link is funny as hell.
posted by dgaicun at 12:57 PM on June 9, 2003

Word: Sugaring. Easy, cheap, very effective, better than Nair, waxing, and shaving.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2003

Er, legs & bikini, at least. I've no idea if it works for armpits, backs, or faces. I should think armpits and faces would be a disaster. Probably works wonderfully on hairy backs.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:44 PM on June 9, 2003

This article leads me to assume that bald men are the most highly evolved of our species.
Well, duh. Talk about old news!
posted by dg at 6:58 PM on June 9, 2003

lockle - if the Earth heats up, humans will engineer (for themselves) giant, elephant sized ears as radiative cooling mechanisms.

dgaicun - the photographer had clear motives, and plenty of them. But what of the naked. posing, butt-sniffing humans?
posted by troutfishing at 8:09 PM on June 10, 2003

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