Mammals are naturally very hairy, but humans are considered bald compared to their close primate cousins like the chimpanzees and gorillas. The notable hair that humans have is those found on the scalp, groins, armpits, and facial hair, such as beards in men, lashes, and eyebrows.
The minimal amount of hair on humans is even puzzling when compared to other mammals, especially because a male can grow beards but not a female.
So, what differs between men and women that the former could grow beards and mustache but not the latter?
Beards May Have Evolved
Zoologist and a science and technology educator Luis Villazon answered via Science Focus the long-standing question as to why men have beards but not women.
He said that evolution might have made beards essential as a signal of testosterone levels of a man. Those with thicker beards seemed to attract more women because it implies that these men would be stronger and more dominant.
As a product of testosterone, men could grow beards because hair follicles in their jaws are stimulated by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This type of hormone is also present in women since they also have a small amount of testosterone but are less sensitive.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Facial Hair
Although beards may make some men look more masculine and there are also some benefits to having facial hair, it is not without any disadvantages. Fatherly reported that as much as there are advantages, there are also disadvantages of having beards:
- Beards carry more bacteria than dogs- In a previous report from Science Times, Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland reported that bacteria found in a man's beard is worse than those found in dogs. The findings suggest that dogs can be cleaner than beards.
- Women find bearded men more attractive- A study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior suggests that women are more attracted to bearded men, but it may depend if their fathers have beards or not. Scientists believe that it must have a connection to imprinting or the theory that mate preferences are formed at a young age and modeled after their parents.
- Bearded men are seen as more mature- Studies show that men sporting beards are seen as more masculine, and more mature than their non-bearded counterparts.
- Beards block UV rays- Although having beards does not guarantee that a man who is growing facial hair will never have cancer, research shows that it certainly is a factor in blocking ultraviolet rays which protect them from about 90% of harmful UV rays.
- Men with beards die young- A study, entitled "Shaving, Coronary Heart Disease, and Stroke: The Caerphilly Study" published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that infrequent shaving is linked to early deaths from all causes, especially from cardiovascular disease. Researchers said that it might be due to lifestyle differences but they also noted that hormonal factors may also be at play.
RELATED ARTICLE: Beards Carry More Germs Than Dogs, says Swiss Scientists
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