How It Works

Why don’t humans have as much hair as other primates?

Why don’t humans have as much hair as other primates?

From Lisa Preston.

Humans evolved from apes, so our earliest human-like ancestors, known as hominins, were ape-like in appearance. Around 3 million years ago, it is thought that these early hominins would have been covered in fur, but between 2–3 million years ago they started to inhabit open savannahs where they were exposed to the glare of the Sun. They also started to hunt large animals, which required running over long distances. A hairy coat would have kept the hominins too warm for this new lifestyle, so it is thought that they gradually evolved to have less hair in order to keep cool.

Answered by Joanna Stass for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 107


To feature in our Brain Dump section, send us your questions to howitworks@futurenet.com or message us on Facebook or Twitter


  • Simone

    I wish that instead of “they evolved”, you would write that females must
    have began selecting mates that had less hair. This would help people
    understand evolution a little bit more than saying in general that they
    just evolved this trait.