Re: Where did all the hair go?

Mike Reid (
1 Sep 1995 20:42:56 GMT (Issodhos) wrote:
> Why did homo sapien lose his/her hair? Why did they begin to dress?
> When is evidence of first self-awareness?

No one really knows the answers to these questions. When and why
humans lost their fur is an unresolved question. Some people
speculate that it was to radiate away excess heat, others think that
it had to do with attracting mates. One interesting theory is that
we are descended from an ancestor that had an aquatic lifestyle and
that the loss of hair was an adaptation for swimming. This idea is
known as the "Aquatic Ape Theory" (AAT) and has been much discussed
on this newsgroup, but is rejected by most anthropologists. There
are other hypotheses as well.

As for why we started wearing clothes -- well, not everyone did.
Many peoples who inhabit the warm tropical or semi-tropical regions
of the world did not begin to wear clothes until the last century
when they were influenced by outside cultures. Some still don€t.
When furless humans migrated north from the warm climate of Africa
into much colder regions in Europe and Asia, they probably began to
dress simply to keep warm.

As far as becoming "self-aware," this is as difficult to determine as
it is to define. Thought processes are not preserved in the fossil
record. We know that a likely ancestor, Homo habilis, had a large
brain and was making primitive tools more than 2 million years ago,
perhaps long before then. Presumably, hominids started contemplating
the world around them and their place in it some time before that.
But as for when that first happened, it€s anyone€s guess.

Mike Reid