Monkey Mustaches Reveal Evolution of Facial Hair Discovery - February 4, 2015
Distinctive facial hairs, like those in mustaches and eyebrows, are not unique to people -- these traits also help certain monkeys identify each other. Mustaches, beards, bushy eyebrows and other can't-miss facial hair might have first evolved in primates to help them easily recognize each other in forest environments, according to new research in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The study shows how much primates rely on vision in their social networks.
Oldest Human Hairs Found in Hyena Dung Live Science - May 11, 2009
The oldest known human hair belonged to a 9,000-year-old mummy disinterred from an ancient Chilean cemetery. Until now. A recent discovery pushes the record back some 200,000 years. (And the newly discovered strands received a rather less dignified burial.) While excavating in Gladysvale Cave, near Johannesburg, South Africa, a team of researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand discovered an ancient brown-hyena latrine. Upon inspection, hyena coprolites - fossilized dung - appeared to contain uncannily hair-like structures. Lucinda Backwell, a paleontologist in the group, took a sediment block containing several coprolites back to the lab for a closer look. She and a colleague carefully removed forty of the "hairs apparent" from one of the coprolites and subjected half to scanning-electron microscopy. Sure enough, fossilized hairs they were, and five showed remarkably preserved surface scales.
Oldest Human Hair Found in Hyena Poop Fossil National Geographic - February 6, 2009
The oldest known human hairs could be the strands discovered in fossil hyena poop found in a South African cave, a new study hints. Researchers discovered the rock-hard hyena dung near the Sterkfontein caves, where many early human ancestor fossils have been found. Each white, round fossil turd, or coprolite, is roughly 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) across. They were found embedded in sediments 195,000 to 257,000 years old. Until now, the oldest known human hair was from a 9,000-year-old Chilean mummy. The sizes and shapes of the coprolites and their location suggest they came from brown hyenas, which still live in the region's caves today. It's not clear which species the newfound human hairs are from, since the human fossil record for this time span is exceedingly limited, the researchers say.
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