Scientists provide new clues on how our hair has evolved
- Hair is one of the most important features in primates which include humans.
- Some functions of the hair are associated with thermoregulation, camouflage, protection, and signaling.
- However, the evolution of the wild primate pelage is still not well understood.
- Pelage is the covering of mammals consisting of hair, fur, or wool.
- Researchers examined whole body hair color and density variation in lemurs.
- Lemurs are wet-nosed mammals with pointy snouts, long tails, and large eyes, and can only be found in Madagascar.
- Lemurs exhibit vertical posture like humans and their bodies are vertical to the sun.
- Researchers obtained hair color and density from museum and wild animals.
- They also obtain opsin genotypes from wild animals and obtain climate data from WorldClim.
- Opsin is a protein that binds to light-reactive chemicals associated with vision, phototaxis, and circadian rhythms.
- Researchers discovered that across the Indriidae family, lemurs with darker hair can be found in wet regions.
- However, one of the genus called Sifaka, dark black hair is commonly found in cold forest regions.
- Additionally, the red pelage population is positively correlated with enhanced color vision.
- Researchers also found the follicle density on lemur’s crown and limbs increases in dry and open environments.
- The study highlights the effect of selective pressures on primate hair evolution.
- The study provides one-of-a-kind empirical evidence that supports an early hypothesis regarding the hair evolution of hominin.
Tapanes, E. et al. (2022). Hair phenotype diversity across Indriidae lemurs, American Journal of Biological Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.24508