Why humans have so little hair compared to other apes

Why do humans have so little hair, at least compared to all other primates? At Smithsonian, Jason Daley shares the latest genetic research on the biological factors that result in humans' minimal body hair and its unusual distribution. Daley also surveys the fascinating current theories about why we evolved into the only naked apes. From Smithsonian:

One popular idea that has gone in and out of favor since it was proposed is called the aquatic ape theory. The hypothesis suggests that human ancestors lived on the savannahs of Africa, gathering and hunting prey. But during the dry season, they would move to oases and lakesides and wade into shallow waters to collect aquatic tubers, shellfish or other food sources. The hypothesis suggests that, since hair is not a very good insulator in water, our species traded in most of our fur for a layer of fat. The hypothesis even suggests we might have developed bipedalism to become more effective waders. But this idea, which has been around for decades, hasn’t received much support from the fossil record and isn’t taken seriously by most researchers.

A more widely accepted theory is that, when human ancestors moved from the cool shady forests into the savannah, they needed better thermoregulation. Losing all that fur made it possible for hominins to hunt during the day in the hot grasslands without overheating. An increase in sweat glands, many more than other primates, also kept early humans on the cool side. The development of fire and clothing meant that humans could keep cool during the day and cozy up at night.

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Panty hose stuffed with hair clippings works great on oil slicks

Years ago, a hairdresser noticed that spilled oil stuck to bird feathers and marine mammal fur, so he started playing around with making oil booms from nylons and hair from his salon. It worked well and is in small-scale use already. Read the rest

Human hair as a computer interface

UC Berkeley researcher and artist Eric Paulos and his students continue their explorations of "cosmetic computing" with a new prototype and paper about "Human Hair as Interactive Material." If you'd like to coif your own computational locks, they've posted a how-to guide on Instructables. From their research page:

Human hair is a cultural material, with a rich history displaying individuality, cultural expression and group identity. It is malleable in length, color and style, highly visible, and embedded in a range of personal and group interactions. As wearable technologies move ever closer to the body, and embodied interactions become more common and desirable, hair presents a unique and little-explored site for novel interactions. In this paper, we present an exploration and working prototype of hair as a site for novel interaction, leveraging its position as something both public and private, social and personal, malleable and permanent. We develop applications and interactions around this new material in HäirIÖ: a novel integration of hair-based technologies and braids that combine capacitive touch input and dynamic output through color and shape change. Finally, we evaluate this hair-based interactive technology with users, including the integration of HäirIÖ within the landscape of existing wearable and mobile technologies.

For more, please listen to Mark Frauenfelder and I interview Eric about Cosmetic Computing in this episode of For Future Reference, a podcast from Institute for the Future:

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Isle of Dogs: dog hair detangler and conditioner

My dog Zuul's hair is an impossible mess. Isle of Dogs spray on, leave in conditioner helps some.

I've been trying all sorts of things to help keep my darling baby Zuul mat and tangle free. Her hair grows like raw cotton and requires more effort than a Great Pyrenees.

Isle of Dogs sprays on, smells good and doesn't leave a greasy sheen. Her coat is not perfect, but she sure smells nice!

I assume this is unrelated to Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs.

Everyday Isle of Dogs Silky Coating Dog Brush Spray, Jasmine Vanilla for Yorkies, Poodles and Tangle-Prone Hair, 8.4oz via Amazon Read the rest

Multitool in a hairclip

I have no hair. But if you do, and it's long, consider this MTA Hairclip that doubles as a stainless steel multitool containing a screw driver, wrench, ruler, cutting edge, and trolley coin to unlock a shopping cart. It's also available in slightly different pink and black models that include a bottle opener.

They're $9 from Amazon. Read the rest

Artist creates shower hair masterpieces

Artist Lucy Gafford has discovered inexpensive art supplies. Rather than letting shed hairs go down the shower drain, she creates Shower Hair Masterpieces, like this fancy azalea blossom. Read the rest

Experiments with thermochromic hair dye

Lauren Bowker's UK-based firm The Unseen is currently working on a bunch of cool thermochromic textile and dye applications, like this hair color that responds to heat. Read the rest

Watch: David Bowie's first TV appearance at age 17 was a delightful prank

In November 1964, 17-year-old David Bowie (then Jones) appeared on BBC's "Tonight" to talk about his new Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men, a PR stunt cooked up by his dad. Bowie was already a veteran rocker, having played with The Konrads,Tthe King Bees, and The Manish Boys. From Wendy Leigh's Bowie: The Biography:

He might have been part of the Manish Boys, but inside, David had always seen himself as a star who stood on his own. So he was heartened when his father came up with a masterstroke.... John Jones swung into action and, applying his well-honed PR skills, along with David's input, concocted a cause designed to thrust David into the limelight....

Consequently, in November 1964, at John Jones's behest, the ever-obliging Leslie Thomas [a music columnist and former Barnardo's boy who'd previously written about the King Bees, also at John Jones's behest] published an article in the Evening News titled "For Those Beyond the Fringe," announcing the formation of a new society, the International League for the Preservation of Animal Filament, whose founder and president was none other than David Jones.

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Animated series about Donald Trump's hair from Ferris Plock, Kelly Tunstall, Form & Fiction

Day Dreamers Limited -- the artist collective of Kelly Tunstall, Ferris Plock, and creative studio Form & Fiction -- are making an animated series starring Donald Trump's Hair as the protagonist! From Hair to the Throne:

Whenever the President drifts off to dreamland or is too busy Tweeting to notice, The Hair gets to work: undoing Trump’s wrongs, pacifying allies, counteracting hostilities, and unifying a divided nation....

This is not just a show about cheap laughs and making a mockery of our President. The overarching theme is the bipolar and symbiotic relationship between President Trump and The Hair, which together represent our divided nation.

Our plans are to have The Hair engage and challenge not only the characters in the fictional world of Hair to the Throne but in the real world as well. Just imagine for a moment, the delightful Twitter conversations @realTheHair will have with @realDonaldTrump as we hold our President accountable for being elected to the most powerful office in the free world. If every person whose voice was ignored on Election Day gives just one dollar, we will send the world a powerful statement, followed by even more powerful action. Only you can help us turn The Hair into a symbol for hope and democratic responsibility! #HopeIsInTheHair

Support "Hair To The Throne" on Kickstarter!

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Is that a real Wookie photobombing this group photo?

At r/mildlyinteresting, people are suggesting that's either Chewbacca in the background of this photo posted by Redactor lolarsystem, or the back of a hirsute woman's head. Both are incorrect. It's quite clearly a Bigfoot. Read the rest

Skull and crossbones hair-bun covers

Salt Lake City's Wyre Art, AKA Kyle Wyatt, makes these amazing, $30 skull and crossbones bun covers, which are so popular that they're on back-order, and which ship in three sizes: "5" x 2" for longer/thicker hair, 5" x 1.5" for longer/regular hair, 4.75" x 1.75" for mid length hair, and 4.5" x 1" for shorter hair." (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Meet the hair dealers, from growers to collectors to buyers

Anthropologist Emma Tarlo just published a new book, Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair, investigating the weird culture and business surrounding hair, from Jewish wig parlors to its use in Hindu temples to hair loss clinics. In an excerpt at Smithsonian, Tarlo tells of the hair trade, tracing the path from the growers to the sellers to the buyers:

An Ohio woman who goes by the pseudonym Shelly-Rapunzel sold 38 inches of her ankle-length brown hair on BuyandSellHair.com for $1,800. “All money is going to doctor appointments that have to be paid upfront,” she says. She is not alone. The website is full of women auctioning their hair to the highest bidder. Not all have tales of hardship: some simply want a change of hairstyle; others do it to raise money for specific purposes such as education or charity; others are regulars who use the hair on their heads to bring in some extra cash every few years.

As a hair seller whose identity is at least somewhat known, Shelly-Rapunzel is an anomaly in a largely anonymous world. The gathering of human hair is on the whole a backstage business about which little is known to those outside the trade. Transactions of this sort where named individuals negotiate good deals for their hair make up only a tiny fragment of the billion-dollar trade in human hair...

Much of the hair procured for wigs and extensions on the global market today is collected in bulk by intermediaries in contexts where hair sellers and buyers occupy different social and economic worlds.

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This barber cuts hair with fire

Milan barber Franco Bompieri, proprietor of Antica Barbieria Colla, cuts hair with fire.

"Burning the ends... the hair evolves," he says. "It becomes bigger, the hair gets stronger and doesn't fall out anymore."

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David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750

A lock of David Bowie's hair sold for $18,750 at auction this week. The seller was Wendy Farrier, a wigmaker who snipped the lock for color reference for a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. No info on the buyer.

"Once hair samples were matched with any figures at Madam Tussauds they were discarded as a matter of course, so there was amusement when I asked to keep one from the selection taken from Bowie,” Farrier wrote in a signed letter of provenance given to Heritage Auctions.

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Infographic: pubic hair removal practices of college students

The Journal of Sexual Medicine surveyed 1,000 students to determine "how many of them are removing or trimming their pubic hair, their reasons for doing so, the methods they use, as well as how they feel about pubic hair on a potential sexual partner," says Dr. Justin Miller of Sex & Psychology, which presented the findings as an infographic: Read the rest

These bizarre vintage hair-dryers will blow your mind, and your tresses

When I was little, my mother had a 1960s sit-under hair dryer with a huge translucent plastic hood that I'd imagine was a variation on a Star Trek Transporter. But that hulking machine had nothing on these vintage hair dryers from the first part of the 20th century. These would have provided me with years of science fiction fantasies and nightmares. See more at Dangerous Minds.

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Hulk Hairgan

Peter Thiel's lawyers are threatening Gawker with a lawsuit over its expose of Donald Trump's "hair," weeks after winning a lawsuit over Gawker's publishing of Hulk Hogan's "sex" tape. As we now have all the carnies in one tent—the billionaire, the millionaire and Donald Trump—it behooves us to imagine them sharing their props.

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