QuickCheck: Are humans as hairy as chimpanzees?


AS OUR human ancestors evolved, they developed an interesting feature unique among primates: humans are the only "naked apes", meaning we lack the dense body hair as seen in chimpanzees, orangutans or gorillas.

While the hair removal market is a multi-billion-dollar industry, not many people would actually believe themselves to be as hairy as our primate cousins. After all, our body hair is barely visible!

However, is it true that humans have as much hair as chimpanzees and other apes?

VERDICT:

TRUE

Think of the hairiest person you know. Then, think of the typical chimpanzee (or gorilla, or so on).

Even the "furriest" of humans is practically nude compared to the other great apes of the world.

Despite that, in terms of the amount of hair, humans are actually on par with other primates.

Humans have about five million hair follicles across our entire body, or about 60 hairs per square centimetre of skin. This is not much less than other apes.

However, rather than thick and dark fur-like hair, humans are coated with a layer of short, fine peach fuzz.

Wispy and short, this fuzz, known formally as vellus hair, is almost invisible in some people.

Alongside losing a thick, full-body coat of hair, humans have also developed to be unusually sweaty. The average person has about 10 times more sweat glands than our close primate relatives!

While we are out here wondering why chimps are so hairy, they are probably wondering why we sweat so much.

The combination of these evolutionary changes has led scientists to posit that the reason for our hair loss (of the bodily kind) has something to do with thermoregulation.

A more recent paper also found that the short and fine vellus hairs play a role in parasite prevention, which might explain why humans did not evolve to become fully hairless.

As for why we have long, luscious hair on our heads and shorter hair everywhere else... well, scientists are still figuring that part out.

Ironically, humans are the only animals in the world to have hair on one specific part of our body that grows continuously until it falls out, and still somehow suffer from balding!

Sources:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3250022/

www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-did-humans-evolve-lose-fur-180970980/

www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/the-semi-naked-ape-or-why-peach-fuzz-makes-it-harder-for-parasites

www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/why-humans-lost-their-hair-and-became-naked-and-sweaty

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StarVerified , True or Not , Great Apes , humans , Hair

   

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