Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cave People Had Bad Hair Days Too

We're not strangers to bad hair days. Everyone of us has had them time and again. But we always wonder why there are times when our hair goes bad. Now, scientists appear to have the answer, and it goes way back 300 million years ago with the conclusions taking their cues from the genetic research on a chicken and a lizard. Yes, it's true, we have learned much about the evolution of our hair from creatures with feathers and leathery scales.

What researcher Leopold Eckhart of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria found out and reported to LiveScience was that keratin, the building blocks of hair, had it's origins in claws. According to Eckhart, the common ancestor of reptiles and mammals (including birds), developed claws and that it was when mammals came to be 210 million years ago that they evolved into hair.

Eckhart and colleagues found a single humanlike gene of keratin in the chicken and six in the lizard. It must mean people are more related to the lizard than to the chicken - which must be why we prefer to eat chicken instead of lizards. Our cavemen ancestors probably felt a kinship to lizards, who knows. Anyway, they probably had their bad hair days as well, especially before the invention of the comb.

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