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Type: Journal article
Title: Variation of human hairiness: a possible adaptation to solar radiation and melanin
Author: Dhugga, A.
Henneberg, M.
Kumaratilake, J.
Citation: Anthropological Review, 2014; 77(2):219-232
Publisher: De Gruyter
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 1898-6773
Statement of
Amrita Dhugga, Maciej Henneberg, Jaliya Kumaratilake
Abstract: Many theories have been advanced to explain human hairlessness, however, there is no consensus. This study of 76 males observed that skin reflectance measuring skin colouration and melanin pigmentation correlated with hair size and follicle density. Individuals with a greater concentration of melanin within the superficial layer of the skin had a lower follicle density and smaller sizes of hairs. In contrast, individuals with a lower melanin concentration and lighter skin colour had a full range of hairiness. This leads to the suggestion that over the course of human evolution, high concentrations of melanin in consistently exposed to ultraviolet radiation areas developed first and that hair loss was a consequence of competition in the skin between melanin production and hair growth. Darker pigmented skin and lower follicle density are significantly correlated (R2=0.283; p<0.05). Individuals with darker skin had a mean of 4.91 follicles per cm2 whereas those with lighter skin reflectance had 11.20 follicles per cm2. This suggests that increased concentrations of melanin in the basal layer of the epidermis may limit hairiness by negatively influencing the skin's ability to produce hair.
Keywords: evolution of hair
Von Luschan’s Scale
skin colour reflectance
Rights: © 2014 Polish Anthropological Society. This content is Open Access.
DOI: 10.2478/anre-2014-0017
Published version:
Appears in Collections:Anatomical Sciences publications
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