Saturday, 7 March 2009

Horizon Part Two

Hope you all passed a peaceful night, despite nakedness or woolly mammoths. I left you yesterday, still unable to prove for certain the link between sweating and hairlessness. To continue...

A study of the Patas monkey, in Kenya, has excited anthropologists because of similarities to its many attributes similar to our ancestors. Their body proportions are similar, with very long legs that enable them to range over vast distances of the open country on which they live, and, unlike other primates, they sweat copiously. It echoes steps in human evolution.

The monkey's fur is less dense, with finer hairs, but one simple fact prevents them from following the course of our early ancestor; they are not bi-pedal. Walking on all fours, their furry backs continue to give them protection from the sun on the open savannah. Upright humans had no need of furry backs, as in an upright position, the only major area exposed to the sun, was the top of their heads - hence the retention of hair on the scalp.

Another major impact of increased sweat production and cooling ability on the development of humans, was on the brain. One brain produces about 20kw of heat; a rise in temperature of 2-4 degrees can prove fatal, so our improved cooling system would have stopped this happening, and ensured our brains had the chance to develop further, unscathed.

But the one thing impossible to discover, was how far back this loss of hair first occurred. Skeletal remains aplenty have been found, but never skin. Then an unusual link was discovered: lice.
By research into the genetic evolution of lice, significant dates have been pinpointed.
Lice were the earliest common parasite to all furry mammals. By sequencing DNA extracted from lice, interesting facts emerged when it was correlated to evolutionary changes. Human head lice DNA sequence went back earlier than three million years, so it is safe to assume loss of hair was much earlier than at first thought.

Lice can only live once they have a suitable environment to inhabit. Each primate had their own species of lice, so scientists were able to pinpoint 3 million years ago as the date when there were changes in human body hair enough to support the crab louse. It needed a courser, more widely spaced hair for its habitat. Similarly for our third kind, the clothing louse. There had to have been clothing to supply it with its one and only habitat, so its appearance about half a million years ago, gives us the rough date at which our ancestors began dressing.

With the emergence of garments, come another set of questions. How does sexual attraction work, when all parts of the body naturally associated with it, are covered by clothes?

I think I will close the wardrobe doors now, and leave the speculations until tomorrow. My brain has had enough for one post, even if yours hasn't...

10 comments:

  1. What a fascinating read!

    When it comes to sexual attraction, imagination is perhaps more powerful than sight. So clothes may not have been an impediment.

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  2. I thought sexual attraction, when you actually analyse it, was all due to smell? Didn't Napoleon used to ask Josephine not to wash when he was coming home - I think I read that somewhere!

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  3. "Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
    Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner,
    How daur ye set your fit upon her --
    Sae fine a lady!
    Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
    On some poor body." -- Robert Burns, To a Louse

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  4. Wow, what a mine of information! I think it's far sexier to see a man in lovely clothes than without them! Or a woman for that matter. There's no anticipation otherwise.

    I love Pat - Arkansas's quote from Robert Burns. I haven't seen it before.

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  5. I love these posts, but you are wise to learn when to break your posts into manageable lengths. Bloggers pretty well go for a quick read -- mostly because there are so many to track.

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  6. That was lovely - not the lice, but the thought and the wonder of it all!

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  7. But the one thing impossible to discover, was how far back this loss of hair first occurred....

    I can trace my own experience back to about 11 years ago. hehe

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  8. I now feel like I need a shower and a shave. What's happening here, Jinksy? Can't wait to see.

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  9. Sorry I am a day late. Thank you for answering my question.

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  10. I'll agree with Sujatha that attraction is more about the imagination than the sight. I've been amazing attracted to and obsessed about some guy for ages who I mostly email and text - he has wonderful ways of expressing how he feels.

    Anyway when it comes to hairiness I wish I'd read stuff like these posts years ago, when I was first a teen growing hairy. I fell foul of the teasing boys (and girls) and did stupid things like shaving my arms (??) and other things which I regretted as it just encouraged the growth of the dark fuzz I now have to contend with!

    We should let our hair roam free!

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