KEY POINTS

  • A new study sheds light on the importance of beards in men
  • It was found that beards help in protecting the chin from a punch
  • The beard also disperses the energy of a blow to the face 

For the longest time, it is believed that guys who grow huge manly beards are more sexually attractive to women. However, a recent study showed it does more than that.

Researchers say that flowing beards might have been used to aid fight-hungry men absorb blows to their heads. Results of the study, which may give more reason for men with bountiful beards to be more confident, were published in the journal Integrative Organismal Biology.

The researchers’ findings came after performing several studies on human resilience, which include examining the ability of the face to take a punch and the efficacy of hands as weapons in a melee.

Capable Of Absorbing More Energy

Experiments conducted by biologists David Carrier and Steven Naleway, along with aspiring biologist Ethan Beseris, showed that bearded samples can absorb more energy compared to sheared or plucked samples.

Dr. Carrier is a Department of Biology Professor at the University of Utah while Dr. Naleway is a Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor in the same university. Beseris, on the other hand, is a research associate at the Carrier Biology Lab and biology major at the University of Utah. beards help in dispersing the energy of a blow to the face beards help in dispersing the energy of a blow to the face Photo: Pexels

The research team used dummies made of an epoxy composite skull, which they covered in three sheepskin styles, namely: plucked, trimmed, and full mutton chops. To reproduce the energy of a punch, the team dropped a weight on the dummy’s chin and a load cell measures the force generated.

A load cell, for starters, is a device that converts energy into measurable electrical output.

The Findings

The biologists found that “peak force was 16% greater and total energy absorbed was 37% greater in the furred compared to the plucked samples.” In their report, the team wrote that the strong tufts performed like shock absorbers, dispensing the energy produced by a punch that helped prevent the delicate jaw from being fractured. They concluded that facial hairs may function like the mane of a baboon or lion.

Researchers wrote beards may help protect crucial sections like the jaw and throat from deadly attacks during a fight. The scientists also noted that the chin is one of the weakest parts of the body. Thankfully, it is also where the beard grows, giving it the extra protection it needs.

The team also suggested that dimorphic facial features may have been brought about by male to male competitions. This proposition is consistent with some observations that facial hair is associated with greater upper body strength, reproductive success, social dominance, and aggressive behavior.