Scientists from Loughborough University in the UK and Penn State in the US have discovered that curly hair may have evolved in humans to keep them cool and conserve water in their bodies, according to a new study.
The researchers were interested in understanding how different hair textures can help regulate body temperature. They found that curly hair is great at keeping humans cool and helping them retain water. This could be one of the reasons why humans have such big brains today.
The scientists explained that our ancestors lived in the hottest parts of the world, like equatorial Africa, where the sun is overhead for a long time each day. This means the sun’s rays are constantly heating the scalp and top of the head. The researchers wanted to see how this affected the evolution of our hair. They discovered that tightly curled hair allowed humans to stay cool and save water.
To conduct the study, the researchers used a special human-shaped model called a thermal manikin. It uses electricity to simulate body heat on the skin. They measured how much electricity was needed to maintain a temperature similar to human skin. They also used solar lamps and wind tunnels to create heat and humidity, like in equatorial regions.
The study found that all hair types provide some protection from the sun’s rays and help keep the head warm. But tightly curled hair is the best at insulating and protecting the scalp.
The scientists believe that having curly hair helped our ancestors survive in hot climates and allowed their brains to grow bigger over time.
This study is exciting because it shows how our hair has adapted to different environments throughout history. It also demonstrates how innovative tools like the thermal manikin can help scientists learn more about our evolution without putting people at risk.
In conclusion, curly hair has proven to be a valuable adaptation for humans, helping them stay cool and hydrated in hot climates.