Friday, December 24, 2010

Why is Black Hair Curly, Kinky, and/or Nappy?

The single biggest driver in human evolution was the challenge of matching the demands and capacities of our out-sized brain against the relative limitations of a weak physique. When researching the ‘whims of mother nature’, nothing is arbitrary. Sure, there are variances and distributions, but you can be sure that somewhere in the mix resides an objective mean – defining form and substance with a purpose.

Hair, like skin, is part of our genetically malleable, adaptable, outer layer, protecting us from the elements, the heat, cold, wetness, dryness, and utilizing the visible and not-so-visible light (energy) spectrum. Early primates and proto-humans had straight hair, which was an asset in low exertion foraging environs of ranging temperature, but not conducive to extending our physical endurance in the competition for food and survival, especially in mid-day Africa. Tightly coiled, moisture resistant head-hair created an enhanced barrier to ultra-violet (UV) radiation by turning many times on itself. This configuration also allows the release of perspiration droplets into a more optimal evaporative state whereby the droplets capture the heat of air moving around the coils before the perspiration rolls off and evaporates said heat away from the body. Presto! Cool scalp, cool brain, and greater endurance.

Conversely, straight hair was a liability, as it is more moisture absorbent, becoming heavy and causing it to stick to adjacent hair shafts and the scalp, effectively blocking the airflow required for heat exchange and dissipation. The straight hair of those precursors to modern humans would have made them less able to exert themselves for survival and advancement.

So with all due respect to Chris Rock, there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ hair. Curly, kinky, or nappy hair adaptation meant survival and prosperity as a species, in the birthplace of humanity. Moreover, just as coiled hair and pigmented skin conveyed advantage in Africa, straight hair, and light skin adaptation did the same moving north, in logical ways and for discernable reasons (more on this later). And for the record, Don Imus (here) is a true moron. The Rutgers ladies (pictured) are infinitely more appealing than his sorry behind.

Reference: Nina Jablonski, PhD., "Skin:A Natural History".

James C. Collier

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8 comments:

Sn3akrFr3akr said...

Beautifully put! Hence the reason I rock my fro in the summer, and blow my hair straight in the winter. It just works well - I never really knew why...

Anonymous said...

Great article. It reminds me of Dicsovery channel's "Life" series (specifically the one about plants).

Indigo

Anonymous said...

So why are there dark skinned Indians with straight hair???

simply.MG. said...

GOD made humans unique and we all reflect Him..we did not "adapt". Because He is the one who designed and formed the Universe He understood that different racial groups would need different characteristics to survive in their climates and environments. Evolution gives way to much credit to humans when actually we had nothing to do with our intelligent design.

simply.MG. said...

God designed us that way. We were made in His image (Gen. 1:26). We did not adapt. God designed and formed the entire universe so He knew that each racial/ethnic group would need different characteristics to survive in their unique climates and environments. Evolution gives waaay too much credit to humans when actually we had nothing to do with our intelligent creation.

Anonymous said...

Um. humans did adapt over time. There were no separate races in the beginning for god to create "differently". We all EVOLVED differently as we adapated to the different geographical environments we branched out to. Do you think god made a white person, a black person, an asian person, and a few others? cuz if you're so into god i'm guessing you're into the bible which claims we're all descended from adam and eve. not all from different racial groups that have looked the way we are since the beginning of time.

Anonymous said...

What we call "race" is really just adaptation to climate--

African hair acts as a radiator, cooling the brain more efficiently. This was essential for people living in the extreme heat close to the equator.

European hair instead keeps the scalp warm, useful in Europe which is a colder place.

The same with facial features-- African faces radiate heat more effectively than European faces. Also a useful adaptation to Africa's much higher average heat.

Europeans somewhat bonier faces tend to retain more heat and are less vulnerable to frostbite-- again an adaptation to the cold weather of Europe.

Dark skin offers better protection from sunburn and also skin cancer. Perfect for the stronger sun of Africa.

Lighter skin is found in the North where the sun is weaker-- because it ensures sufficient vitamin D production, since in Northern places because the sun is weaker.

Both peoples look the way they look as an adaptation to climate. Sad that there has been so much hate and suffering over what are just adaptations to local climate.

Anonymous said...

Well put! Just an excellent article! Thank you for this logical and scientific explanation into why we humans are so different physically amongst each other. This gave me a big relief by answering a philosophicaly confusing question. Once we have settled this its expected from all of us to love each other regardless of race and to work hard together hand to hand to accomplish our common goals.