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Did men evolve beards to help absorb punches?

By T.K. Randall
May 17, 2020 · Comment icon 28 comments

Beards may offer protection from physical injury. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Ayleen Gaspar
A new study has suggested that men's beards have a distinct practical purpose beyond simple ornamentation.
For most men, growing a full beard is almost exclusively a stylistic choice that serves no purpose other than to look aesthetically pleasing, but in the distant past, full facial hair might have been a lot more important - not for improving looks, but for helping to protect men from a punch to the jaw.

According to a new study, a full beard can help to diffuse the blow of a strong punch and could have offered a basic level of protection for males fighting one another.

Such fights are not unheard of - not only is male fighting commonplace in numerous species, but there is evidence to suggest that human males evolved certain physical attributes for this very purpose.
Protective hair can also be found elsewhere in the animal kingdom, such as in male lions which have a mane that can help protect the animal's throat against the claws and teeth of its rivals.

To test this idea, researchers created an analog of a human jaw with beard hair and then dropped weights on it to see how much of a difference the hair actually made to the damage inflicted.

"The results of this study indicate that hair is indeed capable of significantly reducing the force of impact from a blunt strike and absorbing energy, thereby reducing the incidence of failure," the scientists wrote.

"If the same is true for human facial hair, then having a full beard may help protect vulnerable regions of the facial skeleton from damaging strikes, such as the jaw. Presumably, full beards also reduce injury, laceration and contusion, to the skin and muscle of the face."

Source: Live Science | Comments (28)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #19 Posted by freetoroam 4 years ago
The researchers do not need the hunt and grunt cells,  thats real men with beards stuff.
Comment icon #20 Posted by kel_kel 4 years ago
God gave man a mane just like he gave a lion, it doesn't mean all women like it, I find beards pretty nasty.. they're absolutely disgusting looking when too long and I can't help but imagine there is vermin or some sort of insects living in them because they look like a big dirty smelling nest sitting on your face.. and most men aren't the cleanest.. . but to each his own. 
Comment icon #21 Posted by psyche101 4 years ago
Can't hurt to give it a go right?         Maybe there is something to this theory.  Revised Homo Erectus.....
Comment icon #22 Posted by DieChecker 4 years ago
I tend to think this is rubbish also. If it were true, men would have beard hair over many areas of their body. Beards evolved due to colder climates, and stuck around due to sexual preferences.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Manwon Lender 4 years ago
I think men developed beards for the same reason they developed mustaches. The purpose of both of them is simple, they serve as flavor savers, so you never forget a good time!!! ☮ ✌ Peace
Comment icon #24 Posted by Manwon Lender 4 years ago
Come on dude, your not a manscaper? Peace
Comment icon #25 Posted by Stiff 4 years ago
Erm... nope. I even had to look that word up as it's a new one on me. Although Mrs Stiff does like to trim me here and there once in a while just to tidy things up. 
Comment icon #26 Posted by XenoFish 4 years ago
I told you never to share my pics.
Comment icon #27 Posted by XenoFish 4 years ago
Face beards or back beard?
Comment icon #28 Posted by jbondo 4 years ago
IMO, this theory is absolutely absurd. Even worse, someone is probably receiving grant money to study nonsense like this.

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