Re: Why is Homo sapiens hairless?

Rohinton Collins (
17 Nov 1996 20:17:53 GMT

Paul Crowley <> wrote in article
> In article <01bbd1c4$364f9140$LocalHost@dan-pc>
> "Rohinton Collins" writes:
> > Hair insulates the body. It protects the body from solar radiation, but
> > also prevents efficient heat loss - this is why you will never see a
> > savannah baboon out in the midday sun.
> Only mad dogs and Englishmen . . . Are you seriously suggesting that
> Lucy & Co hunted in the midday sun?

Why not? Whether it was hunting/foraging/scavenging, it would certainly
have given her species an advantage, one that would have perhaps have even
been necessary for her species to become successful terrestrial bipeds.
After all, there were plenty of other species of mammal which had been
around in this niche for a lot longer.

> > > And why should the need for heat loss be so compelling?
> >
> > Perhaps this was our ancestors' reason for hair loss. In order that
> > may brave the midday sun in order to hunt/forage/scavenge whilst its
> > cousins were forced to seek shelter.
> C'mon, we're talking about a 3.5 feet high animal, short legs, big
> feet, etc., . . . . Hunt? Forage in the midday sun? Scavenge in
> the midday sun? Scavenge for what? Kills are at night.

Tell that to the wildebeest and zebra who are hunted in the daytime.

> > > What was waddling little Lucy doing that needed such energy?
> >
> > Can you please dispense with the incredibly subjective and misleading
> > 'waddling' Paul? A. afarensis was a fully adapted biped. There is no
> > to assume that her locomotion was markedly less efficient than ours
> > because it was different.
> Yes, there is. What Olympic event would you want to enter Lucy for?
> Marathon? 5,000 metres? 100 metres? Long jump? High Jump? She
> was a "fully adapted biped" alright. But adapted to what? Condors
> and humming birds are both "fully adapted to flight", but the
> differences matter. You cannnot wave them away with some idle
> generalisation. Please tell us what was Lucy good at.

You miss my point. The biomechanics of Lucy's locomotion are not fully
understood, or at least there is no common consent. By labeling her walking
'waddling' you, consciously or unconsciously, give the impression that she
was an inferior biped to modern humans, that her bipedality was somewhere
between a chimpanzees and a modern human. You neglect to mention the most
important fact that if her bipedalism was inferior, then this was most
probably because it was a compromise with another biomechanical activity.
In other words Lucy was well adapted for her lifestyle, the species was
stable for well over 1 million years after all. She was not simply an
ill-adapted biped.

> We have uncontrovertible evidence that our ancestors (and other
> hominid lines) were consuming a certain food in quantity at around


Chimpanzee hunt. As do modern humans. As, it could be argued, did H.
erectus (evidence of fire use). But I do agree that the australopithecines
most probably did not hunt. But they certainly foraged and scavenged. Do
you have a good reference for the AAT on the Internet which is concise?