Humans are a resourceful species. When it comes to body parts, there are some that seem to be a waste of space. Humans would be fine without an appendix or wisdom teeth. Scientists believe that these attributes were left behind during evolution. Another question that many have, is what is the purpose of body hair. This hair covers the outer surface of our bodies, and does not seem to serve a purpose.
Body Hair Serves A Purpose
Most people do not consider themselves hairy, in comparison to our ape ancestors. But, even though we are not covered in layers of hair, we have lots of hair on our bodies. Humans have five million hair follicles. A follicle is an organ located on the surface of the skin that produces hair. Aside from the top of our heads, the next hairiest part of the human body is the nostrils.
Why aren’t humans are hairy as apes? It is believed that our ancestors began to grow shorter hair when they evolved. Once they begun to walk on two legs, instead of four, the shorter hairs helped them keep cool. They could run and walk long distances in search of food, without the weight of excess hair.
Body hair still plays a vital role in regulating the bodies temperature. For example, when the body is cold, the tiny muscles that surround the hair follicles will force the hairs to stand erect. When the hairs are standing, this forces the body to trap heat to help increase the bodies temperature. Usually, goosebumps will accompany this situation.
The tiny hairs that cover the body make sense. Nostril hairs and eyelashes are also useful. They help to keep dirt out of the body. But, hair does grow in other places. Chest hair, public hair, and eyebrows may seem like do not serve a purpose. These hairs grow longer than the hairs on our arms and other places on the body, and for good reason.
Why Does Hair Grow Longer In Certain Places?
The hairs that grow on the top of our heads were kept for protection. The hairs on the top of the head, will grow longer than the hairs on the rest of our bodies. Remember, the head is one of the main parts of the body that is vulnerable to the elements. Without hair to cover it, the area would remain exposed.
Making our way from the head, down to the face there is a difference in body hair as it relates to genders. Males have thicker facial and chest hair then women. Males have more body hair because of natural selection. As the body hairs began to fall off and shorten overtime, humans with less body hair could survive better than those with more.
Body hair also plays a role in sexual attraction. Superficially, there are some people that prefer their partners with longer hair. While, there are others that may want their mates to have short curly hairs. The areas of the body that have thicker hairs, such as the genitals and underarms, play a role in sexual selection.
These areas of the body are the site for our scent-releasing organs. These organs are known as apocrine glands. They release pheromones into the air. The scents that are released differ from person to person. They are used to attract the opposite sex. The longer hairs in these regions help to amplify the natural odors that are released.
Body Hair Is Necessary
Even though it may seem like body hair should be eliminated, it does continue to serve its purpose. Body hair regulates the bodies temperature, acts as a form of protection, and once helped with mating practices. Body hair is no longer a factor that helps with mating, aside from the hairs located on the top of your head.
Questioning what is the purpose of body hair is a sound question to ask. Without properly understanding evolution and the changes that we have underwent to become humans, finding the purpose of the hair can be difficult. Modern day people choose to shave a large amount of their hair off. However, shaving the hair does not defeat its purpose. The follicle is still left, and will still react to temperatures appropriately to protect the body.