15
   

Why do men have beards?

 
 
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 10:21 am
The beard is an example of pubic hair, ie it grows during puberty along with hair beneath the arms and on the crotch of both sexes. I undertsand that the latter two examples of pubic hair grow in those locations because they are close to areas that produce pheronomes, scents which in antiquity would have attracted a mate. These hairs trapped these scents and kept you smelling musky and appealing for longer.

Why we have not begun to lose the pubic hair on our crotch and under our arms since the advent of humans being repulsed by body odour is pondersome enough - surely, for a long, long time now, stinky men and women would be less likely to find a mate and procreate, so the tendency of hair in those zones should be being bred out - but why ever do men have a beard? It does not grow in a scent producing zone.

Why have women, who must once, aeons ago, have had them, lost them? It cannot have been preserved in men because it was a flag to women to show men had reached sexual maturity. Sexual urges are often felt before a person is fertile anyway, so the desire to mate is there before the beard. Also, a quick glance at a naked man's groin and underarm would have told a woman much the same thing.

Was it purely decorative, like a lion's mane or peacock's feathers, used to show off an abundance of testosterone, which might be appealing to a mate?

Any ideas?

http://belsinglecell.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/hairy_hairy_man11.jpg
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Type: Question • Score: 15 • Views: 10,574 • Replies: 76

 
View best answer, chosen by iamsam82
Ragman
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 10:30 am
@iamsam82,
Simply it keeps your face warm when you're hunting.

Also it provides a place to put your keys if you don't have your pants on.
iamsam82
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 10:33 am
@Ragman,
No way. Moisture blown out of the nose and mouth freeze in a beard in cold conditions and actually make it worse. Also, women may not have done the hunting but their lives were just as outdoorsy. Why didn't they need beards when foraging?
joefromchicago
 
  5  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 11:32 am
Some men have beards for professional reasons. Tom Cruise and John Travolta, for instance.
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  6  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 11:44 am
@iamsam82,
I can tell you've not grown a beard...

definitely warmer in winter, much like a bear or fox, the fur holds moisture and cold away from the skin.

it also makes a handy crumb catcher, keeping men with an after dinner snack if they wish...
iamsam82
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 11:57 am
@Rockhead,
Quote:
growing a beard is one of the worst things you can do in cold weather. Moisture from your breath freezes on the facial hair and leads to frostbite. Don’t just take it from me, ask Shakelton and Scott.

(http://artofmanliness.com/2011/12/21/cold-weather-dressing/)

Quote:
Frostbite, the freezing of tissues, can strike any exposed skin in minutes. (Note that beards offer little or no protection to your face.)

(http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/shackleton/surviving/exposure.html)

From an account of Scott's journey to the Antarctic:
Quote:
their breath froze in their beards and around the necks of their fur coats which produced a collar as stiff as a board. Shivering fits could last for hours.

(http://www.south-pole.com/p0000089.htm)

But even if your idea were right, and beards did keep a face warmer, why did women lose them? Both men and women feel the cold, so its thermal properties are unlikely to have led to its survival. Beards must have been something that only men required to keep in evolutionary terms.
Cycloptichorn
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 12:00 pm
Hair is for protection. It actually causes the surface of the skin to be a lot slipperier. A proper beard will repel branches and thorns that could scratch the skin; a punch that lands on the face of a dude with a beard is more likely to slip off than a guy without one.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
iamsam82
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 12:03 pm
@iamsam82,
I suppose it could have acted as a natural scrim when hunting. A scrim is a scarf used to hide parts of the face when chasing game. It breaks up the distinctive oval outline of the human face which animals instinctively flee from and are instinctively on the lookout for. The army use them too so that fellow humans don't see them so quickly in undergrowth.
http://www.outdoorgb.com/pi/_at/440x420/bcb/cb1505_veil.jpg

Seems unlikely though.
0 Replies
 
Atom Blitzer
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 12:04 pm
@iamsam82,
"why did women lose them?"
Maybe women who had beards didn't get banged, and that gene faded off from the population?

Bearded ladies are fugly in my opinion.
iamsam82
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 12:15 pm
@Atom Blitzer,
Cycloptichorn, I don't agree that a beard offers protection. If it does, the protection it offers is negligible. You wouldn't stick cotton wool to your crotch before a game of cricket. You'd put a plastic box over your goods to keep them safe. Nails on the fingers and toes show the sort of material that can be evolved for protection. Hair is a poor substitute. And, again, wome spent as much time among the branches and thorns as men, gathering berries and foraging herbs and roots, etc.

Of course, it sometimes helps with evolutionary problems to approach them from the other way round: Why did the rest of the human body go bald?

Having hair was the default setting. It is the bald parts that are the evolved parts. The beard was never a hindrance so it remained - like an appendix. So the question really is why did women lose their beards?
eurocelticyankee
 
  2  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 12:24 pm
@iamsam82,
Quote:
You'd put a plastic box over your goods to keep them safe.


Like so?
https://encrypted-tbn3.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT2ECLB-X7x4BhX85gBvpneWpzm1LGJNaPonbMkGP6qgWRnf7x6MQ
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  5  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 12:25 pm
@iamsam82,
Quote:

Cycloptichorn, I don't agree that a beard offers protection. If it does, the protection it offers is negligible.


Well, you're simply incorrect. My beard has indeed provided me exactly the protection I outlined in my above post.

You should recall that beards far predated any human ability to create a material hard enough to offer better protection.

Quote:
Nails on the fingers and toes show the sort of material that can be evolved for protection.


Hair is actually the same substance as nails - Keratin. They both evolved for the same reason - protection.

Quote:
Of course, it sometimes helps with evolutionary problems to approach them from the other way round: Why did the rest of the human body go bald?


My guess is for better internal temperature control. Skin without hair (with very short hair, really) sheds sweat and heat more efficiently than skin with developed hair.

Cycloptichorn
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:02 pm
Whenever, in winter, my breath condensed and froze on my moustache and beard, it didn't make my skin colder. It also melted away in seconds when i went indoors.
0 Replies
 
iamsam82
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:10 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:

Hair is actually the same substance as nails - Keratin. They both evolved for the same reason - protection.


Then our hair would be made of the same quality and strength keratin as that which forms the nails on or hand. Hair is different to nail. Their jobs must be different. The hair on our head stops heat escaping from the top of the body. It might also give limited protection from the sun on the head in warmer climes. It does not protect much from falls and scrapes.

Quote:
My guess is for better internal temperature control. Skin without hair (with very short hair, really) sheds sweat and heat more efficiently than skin with developed hair.


You're absolutely right here. But it doesn't solve the problem: Why would men need to shed sweat and heat less efficiently? They kept the beard after all.
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:12 pm
This "Art of manliness" blog can hardly be considered an expert opinion. Click here to read their "about" page. There is absolutely no reason to consider it an authoritative site. Although Shackleton certainly had experience of the antarctic, man had never inhabited the region until the 20th century, and then did so only artificially. It can hardly be considered to have been exemplary to evolutionary conditions. The same applies to the quote by Robert Falcon Scott. Both Shackleton and Scott were operating in extremes of cold which did not apply to our ancestors.

As for why women don't have beards, there are several considerations with the author chooses to ignore. One is the rather simple one of selection pressure for women without beards. However, although there is evidence that women hunted, by and large, their contribution was in foraging, which is not something one does in the winter. Furthermore, even those who did some hunting would very likely not have done so once they had mated, because there were children to be cared for.

All in all, those links provide no authority to dismiss out of hand a possible evolutionary advantage to beards.
Cycloptichorn
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:19 pm
@iamsam82,
You are making quite a few logical jumps in just a few sentences.

Quote:
Hair is different to nail. Their jobs must be different.


I would submit that this is an illogical statement that isn't supported by fact.

Cycloptichorn
iamsam82
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:24 pm
@Setanta,
Agreed, the sites are of limited credibility, but then so is the hearsay of you hirsute guys! It is your opinion your face felt warmer with a beard. I don't suppose any of you actually tested its warming capabilities scientifically. Those quotes merely serve as counter opinions to yours, which are equally unproven.

You say that your tash and beard used to freeze up but thawed out very quickly once you went indoors. My bare skin has never even frozen up. I can't buy the idea that it's a good insulator. In any case, why would the chin need particular insulation? The top of the head and the chest maybe, but the chin?!

Quote:
there are several considerations with the author chooses to ignore. One is the rather simple one of selection pressure for women without beards.


I have actually mentioned this, but I still don't understand why men would have suddenly and quite arbitrarily selected a beardless face in their mates. If the beard is of daily use to a male because of its warming capabilities (and I still dispute this), it is of use to a female. The fact one sex kept it and one did not must imply its purpose was sexual (ie it was used to attract the opposite sex). If its purpose was sexual then I understand why men would have selected less facially hirsute women.
Setanta
 
  5  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:25 pm
By the way, women do have hair all over their bodies, just as men do. Thye don't usually have the heavy, noticeable whiskers which characterize men's beards. I was in love with my first grade teacher, Miss Whitfield. In particular, i much admired her fine moustache.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:27 pm
@iamsam82,
Strawman--i didn't say that my face felt warmer with a beard. I simply said that freezing condensation on my moustache didn't make the skin feel cold. You are of course entitle to speculate as you will about why men have beards. Do us a favor, though, and don't throw up bullshit like that last batch.
iamsam82
 
  0  
Reply Mon 30 Jul, 2012 01:34 pm
@Setanta,
You are such a rude piece of ****. Why do you insert yourself into threads if you find every opinion but yours offensive and irksome. Get your head out of your own arse once in a while and ******* grow up or **** off. You are free to not post on my threads ever again. In fact, you'd be doing me, and I'd imagine, the rest of a2k a favour, you arrogant loser.
 

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