Human nakedness: adaptation against ectoparasites?

Int J Parasitol. 1999 Dec;29(12):1987-9. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(99)00133-2.


Homo sapiens L. has been described as the naked ape, and this nakedness undoubtedly constitutes one of the most striking differences in appearance between man and the apes. Nakedness has been attributed at various times to sexual selection [1], aquatic stage [2], hunting [3], cooling [4], sex [5], neoteny [6] and allometry [7], most proposed explanations logically revealing some aspect of the phenomenon. However, most fail to account for the distinctiveness of man's hairlessness among mammals of the same size. Unfortunately, fossils cannot help us to explain how denudation occurred, and how it helped hominids to survive. In this paper I will present an old hypothesis with a new point of view incorporating more recent evidence.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animals
  • Ectoparasitic Infestations / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Fossils*
  • Hair / physiology*
  • Hominidae / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nudism
  • Selection, Genetic