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Thread: Do men have beards to help take a punch to the face? SCIENCE !

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    Do men have beards to help take a punch to the face? SCIENCE !

    These researchers think men have big beards because they get into fights and get punched in the jaw, or something.

    https://www.livescience.com/beards-p...e-punches.html

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    While they demonstrated that facial could provide such protection, I’m not convinced that our ancestors spent so much time in hand-to-hand combat that the trait was selected for that reason. Speaking off the cuff, I can envision our ice age ancestors benefitting more and more frequently from the warmth provided by a beard. I imagine hunters spent much more time with their faces exposed to the elements while in pursuit of prey than they did slugging it out.
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    As an owner of a beard and a face I say
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    These researchers think men have big beards because they get into fights and get punched in the jaw, or something.

    https://www.livescience.com/beards-p...e-punches.html

    Your opinion is welcome.
    Punching someone in the jaw can hurt your hand.

    I think it’s more likely that before razors and soap, shaving was hard.
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    I guess there are several questions. There is the question as to why, compared to our nearest relatives (the great apes) we have less hair on our bodies than they do, and why has it remained where it is. And there is the question as to why there are differences in hair distribution between human males and human females (comparing in the natural state, and not as modified by cultural considerations). I assume they are trying to address the second question.

    Even if the mechanics of what they describe are true (facial hair helps to soften blows to the face), they'd have to demonstrate that this is more important for males than females.
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    I think women decide about beards. Some like them, others don’t. At sea they make sense because it’s cold and so there is a lattitude factor. recognition is harder with beards too and most armies ban them to avoid lice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I guess there are several questions. There is the question as to why, compared to our nearest relatives (the great apes) we have less hair on our bodies than they do, and why has it remained where it is.
    I was thinking about our hirsute cousins earlier this morning, pondering the fact that in spite of being so much hairier, their facial hair doesn't grow long. Of course, their typical climates suggest that it isn't needed for warmth and I've never seen classic fisticuffs in their behavior. Fights, yes. Queensberry rules, no.

    In fact, this line of thought makes me think that there may be some bias in play here. Did they test for this kind of combative method because that's just what they think fights are like? As in the movies? A beard won't do much for a rock to the temple and in grappling, a beard becomes a ​handle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I guess there are several questions. There is the question as to why, compared to our nearest relatives (the great apes) we have less hair on our bodies than they do, and why has it remained where it is.
    Regarding the general lack of hair, the old argument I used to hear is that we have been wearing clothes and using fire so long, there was no longer selection pressure for hair (with a similar argument regarding our small jaws and the use of fire). The argument I have been hearing slightly more recently is that humans are exceptional long range runners, and fit humans can run down most pray partly because we are also exceptionally good at getting rid of waste heat. There was also a semi-aquatic ancestor argument, but that one seems to have fallen out of favor.

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    https://www.twistedmoustache.co.uk/d...absorb-punches

    This unofficial anecdotal bit of research estimates that a full beard may provide perhaps 5% reduction in damage, and if bushy enough might cloak the jawline's exact location during a brawl. And it's suggested that it could possibly make the blow less direct by acting to reduce friction of an indirect blow.

    My own take is that the evolution of the beard has to do more with sexual selection than with protection. But a small advantage is still an advantage in evolutionary terms. And we come from a variety of hominids, including the very violent Neanderthals whose skeletons' broken bones are consistent with those of modern bare-knuckle boxers.
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    I think humans evolved so that women learned that men with beards were to be preferred as they often had enough food trapped in their beards to feed the family in hard times. Thus women selected bearded men as a survival technique.

    Well, it makes as much sense as the punch-in-the-face theory, which I thought was silly.
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2020-May-14 at 06:41 PM.
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    It seems to me like in a fight, a long beard would be easily grabbable and present more of a liability than a benefit.

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    I heard about a guy who was forced at gunpoint to cut off his own beard and eat it.

    Limited science there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgh64 View Post
    It seems to me like in a fight, a long beard would be easily grabbable and present more of a liability than a benefit.
    The same goes for scalp hair, and yet we grow that too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    The same goes for scalp hair, and yet we grow that too.
    ...almost seems like combat effectiveness isn't the only selection pressure involved. I, for one, am sticking to the theory that men out hunting are more exposed to the cold and the beard keeps the face and neck more insulated.

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    I'm really just guessing here, but for example, it may be that male lions have manes because it makes them look bigger and more powerful. Perhaps beards also make you look bigger and more powerful. So it is perhaps not necessary for them to have a function.
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