Evolution of nakedness in Homo sapiens


Markus J. Rantala, Department of Biology, Section of Ecology, University of Turku, FIN-20014, Turku, Finland.
Email: marrant@cc.jyu.fi


Homo sapiens L. is the only existing primate species lacking in functionally effective thermally insulating fur. As all other primates have considerable hair covering, it has always been accepted that our ancestors must once have had a respectable amount of body hair. Unfortunately, fossils cannot help us when it comes to differences in skin and hair. Recent DNA analysis, however, has given us some idea of when and where the great denudation took place. A number of hypotheses have been proposed to account for this feature, but none of these has gained general acceptance. In this paper, I present these hypotheses in the light of current empirical evidence and discussion.