03 March, 2005

There is Hair on My Face

I have this unfortunate problem: the field in which I travail (evolution) dictates that, if my attention is focused on any physical feature, I will ultimately be forced to posit the evolutionary underpinnings of that feature. To wit: this five o'clock shadow I've had going for the past several days (now running in the vicinity of sixty-two o'clock shadow).

Some of you may have noticed that women, for the most part, don't have hair on their faces. When they do, it is generally considered somewhat odd. I'm sure that, in time, we will learn to overcome this form of chauvinism, but for the present it seems to be with us. Men get the beards. And since my face is itching like crazy right now, I have to wonder: "Why, God? Why did you do this to us? Are you still sore about that Tower of Babel thing? Was it because we stopped burning the fatted kine in your name, O Lord?"*

I'd like to point out that our nearest surviving relatives, chimps and gorillas, don't actually have facial hair. Or, rather, whatever facial hair they have is exactly the opposite the pattern seen in humans: they have hair everywhere but around the chin and mouth.

This implies two things: first, human males specifically evolved the growth of facial hair around the chin and mouth. And second, since human females did not evolve this feature, it is likely the result of sexual selection. At some point in our history, human females expressed a sexual preference for bearded males, strong enough that it conferred a selective advantage on them.

Which leads me to ask: what the hell is wrong with you, human females?

* I am aware that I'm not Christian or Jewish, but for the purposes of making fun of God, YHWH cannot be beat.

I'm also aware that I said I would be getting bored of these footnotes soon, but it doesn't seem to be happening.

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