By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
Human men have evolved to have beards to better absorb a punch to the face, according to a University of Utah research paper. That research cost taxpayers up to $290,921. Research funded, in part, through by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The three male researchers tested their hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from such punches.
They didn’t take punches to the face but created a fake face — fiber epoxy composite in place of bone, sheep skin in place of human skin, and sheared or not sheared to replicate a man with a beard and a man without one.
They used a weight to hit the “face,” measuring the impact, and found that fully-furred skin could absorb more energy than sheared skin.
“Some authors have proposed that the beard may function similar to the long hair of a lion’s mane, serving to protect vital areas like the throat and jaw from lethal attacks,” the researchers wrote. “These data support the hypothesis that human beards protect vulnerable regions of the facial skeleton from damaging strikes.”
Their “groundbreaking” work in the field of facial hair won them the IG Nobel peace prize from the Annals of Improbable Research magazine, in addition to a place on our list of wasteful scientific research.
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