Humans have less body hair than their great ape ancestors. Yet they still have a lot of body hair compared to many animals. There is a lot of diversity among mankind regarding body types. This includes body hair. Geographically, those from the Mediterranean and the Middle East seem to be the hairiest.
Why Did We Lose So Much Hair Over Time?
As I get older, the usual concerns arise about losing my hair. But, what about our distant ancestors? We evolved from great apes. Did cave persons wonder: where did our hair go?
Some things are simply not crystal clear. The past is not only a “distant mirror” but we look through the glass in a type of haze. As the Smithsonian noted:
Does bare skin help us sweat to keep cool while hunting during the heat of the day? Did losing our fur allow us to read each other’s emotional responses such as fuming or blushing? Scientists aren’t exactly sure.
Other theories are that less hair means fewer parasites. Or, maybe it has something to do with sexual attraction. Still, we do have a lot of hair, in different parts of our bodies.
Different Types of Body Hair
Humans all have certain basic characteristics. This is the definition of being their own species. We also often believe that humans all are equal in worth and deserve equal respect.
Nonetheless, we do look different in many ways. We are not all black, for one thing, and we had a discussion about that in another article. We also look different in many other ways.
And, fitting the theme, there is a range of types of body hair. Body hair, like other differences, tends to be an adaption to specific environments.
Who Has The Most Body Hair (Drum Roll, Please)
Whites are the hairiest with Mediterranean (Southern Europe) and Semitic people (Middle Eastern) tending to be hairier than Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons (English). Africans are in the middle. The least hairy peoples are Asians and American Indians.
We saw above how the reasons for differences in body hair are not totally clear. For instance, Caucasian people are hairier than the Japanese, even though testosterone levels are the same. The difference seems to be in how sensitive the hair follicles are to those testosterone levels.
It makes sense for Africans, originally from a warmer climate, to need less body hair than those from more frigid European areas. See also, the whole smaller eyes for Asians discussion.
But, I have questions regarding my own Italian (Mediterranean) and Irish (Anglo-Saxon) background. Why so much hair in Italy, including a lot of masculine chest hair, and even the stereotype of women having hairier legs? Is it not warm there?
Well, this goes to the complicated nature of human development, including our migration all over the world. Italians adapted to different parts of the region, both warm and cold. They settled down, intermarried, and the rest as they say is history.
I think the diversity of humans is generally a great thing. We have a range of people in this world with different looks, and abilities, and it all makes things interesting.
Body hair is a sensitive topic, especially among many women, who in many cases are very uncomfortable about having too much hair. What “too much” here means is not only an objective thing, though some do have physical conditions with excessive hair. It also is very cultural.
Whites have the most hair. There is a lot of diversity among whites, however, including among specific ethnic groups. And, individuals themselves.