Why do most black people have Nappy/Kinky/Coily Hair?

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I've always wondered what made the hair type and texture for people of African descent so different than other ethnic groups. Asians, Indians, Europeans, Middle Easterns etc all seem to have similar hair in that their hair is straight to loosely curled generally and has more shine than sheen despite it being coarse or fine.

I was under the assumption that the "original man" was from Africa and in my mind would have had kinky hair??? So it only seems logical to me that there should be a lot more nappy heads around then I see now. I understand that it has something to do with the shape of the hair follicle but I was hoping to find out more about nappy hair being a genetic advantage or something along these lines...

Any thoughts or insight???




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ah...re-read the question...and i still don't know lmao


but black people are so cool.
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Last edited by RMichelleM; 06-09-2009 at 09:56 PM.
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That's an interesting question. I wonder what evolution would tell us. Possibly the same thing as genetic science?

There's got to be a reason for why different hair types evolved.

I'm going to Google "evolution of hair type."
People predominately from Western Africa (not the entire continent of people have extra kinky hair - Eastern Africans like Ethiopians for example) have extra kinky hair as a defense mechanism against the sun. Same reason our skin is so dark.

Darker skin has more melanin (sp. sorry) and more concentrated this is, the more protection you have against the sun. That's not to say you are immune, but if you are living in an extremely hot climate like West Africa, and you're living before sunscreen was invented, you have way more of an advantage if your skin contains high levels of melanin.

Hair on the top of the head that coils and coils and is very dense and close to the scalp protects your scalp/head from the sun as well. So when you're out gathering food and water all day and/or hunting, the sun won't fry your brain. So the original man, because of where he was located, evolved to have extremely dark skin and extremely coily/kinky hair to protect him from the sun's exposure.

Thousands of years ago, as people started to migrate and populate the world, they evolved or changed, just like any other animal, to adapt to their environment. Those who moved to much colder climates needed more vitamin D in their skin and did not require or need so much melanin so they paled. Their hair got less kinky so it could help warm them as it was easier for the hair to show length the straighter it is.

If you look at the planet, you can pretty much see that people look the way they look in response to their environment. It's not perfect (because of other nations conquering other nations, producing different looking people than the original people that were there) because the adaption takes thousands of years, but that's why people look different in a nutshell. Once you know this it really makes racism look even more ridiculous.
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People predominately from Western Africa (not the entire continent of people have extra kinky hair - Eastern Africans like Ethiopians for example) have extra kinky hair as a defense mechanism against the sun. Same reason our skin is so dark.

Darker skin has more melanin (sp. sorry) and more concentrated this is, the more protection you have against the sun. That's not to say you are immune, but if you are living in an extremely hot climate like West Africa, and you're living before sunscreen was invented, you have way more of an advantage if your skin contains high levels of melanin.

Hair on the top of the head that coils and coils and is very dense and close to the scalp protects your scalp/head from the sun as well. So when you're out gathering food and water all day and/or hunting, the sun won't fry your brain. So the original man, because of where he was located, evolved to have extremely dark skin and extremely coily/kinky hair to protect him from the sun's exposure.

Thousands of years ago, as people started to migrate and populate the world, they evolved or changed, just like any other animal, to adapt to their environment. Those who moved to much colder climates needed more vitamin D in their skin and did not require or need so much melanin so they paled. Their hair got less kinky so it could help warm them as it was easier for the hair to show length the straighter it is.

If you look at the planet, you can pretty much see that people look the way they look in response to their environment. It's not perfect (because of other nations conquering other nations, producing different looking people than the original people that were there) because the adaption takes thousands of years, but that's why people look different in a nutshell. Once you know this it really makes racism look even more ridiculous.
Originally Posted by NubianCoils
You broke it down perfectly.
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Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair
People predominately from Western Africa (not the entire continent of people have extra kinky hair - Eastern Africans like Ethiopians for example) have extra kinky hair as a defense mechanism against the sun. Same reason our skin is so dark.

Darker skin has more melanin (sp. sorry) and more concentrated this is, the more protection you have against the sun. That's not to say you are immune, but if you are living in an extremely hot climate like West Africa, and you're living before sunscreen was invented, you have way more of an advantage if your skin contains high levels of melanin.

Hair on the top of the head that coils and coils and is very dense and close to the scalp protects your scalp/head from the sun as well. So when you're out gathering food and water all day and/or hunting, the sun won't fry your brain. So the original man, because of where he was located, evolved to have extremely dark skin and extremely coily/kinky hair to protect him from the sun's exposure.

Thousands of years ago, as people started to migrate and populate the world, they evolved or changed, just like any other animal, to adapt to their environment. Those who moved to much colder climates needed more vitamin D in their skin and did not require or need so much melanin so they paled. Their hair got less kinky so it could help warm them as it was easier for the hair to show length the straighter it is.

If you look at the planet, you can pretty much see that people look the way they look in response to their environment. It's not perfect (because of other nations conquering other nations, producing different looking people than the original people that were there) because the adaption takes thousands of years, but that's why people look different in a nutshell. Once you know this it really makes racism look even more ridiculous.
Originally Posted by NubianCoils
You broke it down perfectly.
Originally Posted by hautecocoa
Thanks! It makes me happy when I can try to explain stuff like this. Take THAT mom!! She told me my history and racism classes in college were useless.
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And some genetic info., as well (about which I've always wondered):

From Wiki Answers:

Hair-type doesn't follow the nice and simple pattern of inheritance. Hair-type follows a type of inheritance pattern known as "incomplete dominance". Like the earlobe gene, there are two versions of the hair-type gene, curly (noted as C) and straight (noted as s). The incomplete dominance refers to the fact that if you have one of each version of the gene, you get a mix of the two or, in this case, wavy hair. So for hair type, CC gives curly, Cs gives wavy and ss gives straight hair.
if u believe in science the answer is pretty simple, adaptation to very different climates over time.


[didn't know that my post was so late. ITA with what was said above]
3b here 4a there 3c everywhere
talk about a mix up

elevator doors open...

random girl: ohhh, you have curly hair

elevator doors begins to close...

random girl's friend:i think he knows that already

elevator doors close...
People predominately from Western Africa (not the entire continent of people have extra kinky hair - Eastern Africans like Ethiopians for example) have extra kinky hair as a defense mechanism against the sun. Same reason our skin is so dark.

Darker skin has more melanin (sp. sorry) and more concentrated this is, the more protection you have against the sun. That's not to say you are immune, but if you are living in an extremely hot climate like West Africa, and you're living before sunscreen was invented, you have way more of an advantage if your skin contains high levels of melanin.

Hair on the top of the head that coils and coils and is very dense and close to the scalp protects your scalp/head from the sun as well. So when you're out gathering food and water all day and/or hunting, the sun won't fry your brain. So the original man, because of where he was located, evolved to have extremely dark skin and extremely coily/kinky hair to protect him from the sun's exposure.

Thousands of years ago, as people started to migrate and populate the world, they evolved or changed, just like any other animal, to adapt to their environment. Those who moved to much colder climates needed more vitamin D in their skin and did not require or need so much melanin so they paled. Their hair got less kinky so it could help warm them as it was easier for the hair to show length the straighter it is.

If you look at the planet, you can pretty much see that people look the way they look in response to their environment. It's not perfect (because of other nations conquering other nations, producing different looking people than the original people that were there) because the adaption takes thousands of years, but that's why people look different in a nutshell. Once you know this it really makes racism look even more ridiculous.
Originally Posted by NubianCoils
Wow.. thanks for the quick response! I thought that the climate had something to do with it but could not find this said so plainly anywhere else. And after I posted I thought that I should have said West Africa in specific so thanks for pointing that out.




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Falling in love more and more each day with my natural hair

Current rotation: Shescentit anything, Qhemet Burdock Root Buttercream, Castor Oil, Olive Oil, Hairveda Whipped Jelly, Aussie Moist and Aussie Gels

Stats: Grazing APL, Dense, Medium Strands, 3c-4a curls
People predominately from Western Africa (not the entire continent of people have extra kinky hair - Eastern Africans like Ethiopians for example) have extra kinky hair as a defense mechanism against the sun. Same reason our skin is so dark.

Darker skin has more melanin (sp. sorry) and more concentrated this is, the more protection you have against the sun. That's not to say you are immune, but if you are living in an extremely hot climate like West Africa, and you're living before sunscreen was invented, you have way more of an advantage if your skin contains high levels of melanin.

Hair on the top of the head that coils and coils and is very dense and close to the scalp protects your scalp/head from the sun as well. So when you're out gathering food and water all day and/or hunting, the sun won't fry your brain. So the original man, because of where he was located, evolved to have extremely dark skin and extremely coily/kinky hair to protect him from the sun's exposure.

Thousands of years ago, as people started to migrate and populate the world, they evolved or changed, just like any other animal, to adapt to their environment. Those who moved to much colder climates needed more vitamin D in their skin and did not require or need so much melanin so they paled. Their hair got less kinky so it could help warm them as it was easier for the hair to show length the straighter it is.

If you look at the planet, you can pretty much see that people look the way they look in response to their environment. It's not perfect (because of other nations conquering other nations, producing different looking people than the original people that were there) because the adaption takes thousands of years, but that's why people look different in a nutshell. Once you know this it really makes racism look even more ridiculous.
Originally Posted by NubianCoils
Wow.. thanks for the quick response! I thought that the climate had something to do with it but could not find this said so plainly anywhere else. And after I posted I thought that I should have said West Africa in specific so thanks for pointing that out.
Originally Posted by danrobin0313
Girl, I'm like an eager kid in school! As soon as I saw this post I was like Oh, Oh, pick me! Pick ME!! I know the answer!!!
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if u believe in science the answer is pretty simple, adaptation to very different climates over time.


[didn't know that my post was so late. ITA with what was said above]
Originally Posted by CurlLee
Great hair, CurlLee!
People predominately from Western Africa (not the entire continent of people have extra kinky hair - Eastern Africans like Ethiopians for example) have extra kinky hair as a defense mechanism against the sun. Same reason our skin is so dark.

Darker skin has more melanin (sp. sorry) and more concentrated this is, the more protection you have against the sun. That's not to say you are immune, but if you are living in an extremely hot climate like West Africa, and you're living before sunscreen was invented, you have way more of an advantage if your skin contains high levels of melanin.

Hair on the top of the head that coils and coils and is very dense and close to the scalp protects your scalp/head from the sun as well. So when you're out gathering food and water all day and/or hunting, the sun won't fry your brain. So the original man, because of where he was located, evolved to have extremely dark skin and extremely coily/kinky hair to protect him from the sun's exposure.

Thousands of years ago, as people started to migrate and populate the world, they evolved or changed, just like any other animal, to adapt to their environment. Those who moved to much colder climates needed more vitamin D in their skin and did not require or need so much melanin so they paled. Their hair got less kinky so it could help warm them as it was easier for the hair to show length the straighter it is.

If you look at the planet, you can pretty much see that people look the way they look in response to their environment. It's not perfect (because of other nations conquering other nations, producing different looking people than the original people that were there) because the adaption takes thousands of years, but that's why people look different in a nutshell. Once you know this it really makes racism look even more ridiculous.
Originally Posted by NubianCoils
truth.

im just glad we are the way we are

although sometimes i wish we lived in a society that praised our own natural beauty instead of everyone elses. ah well.
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What abour India? It's hot there, but ppl have mostly straight hair there.
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What abour India? It's hot there, but ppl have mostly straight hair there.
Originally Posted by Phoenix
Actually the majority of Indians have wavy and even curly hair. It's just the majority also straighten like African Americans relax so you wouldn't know it....But honestly, I've never been to India, but I have been to West Africa a few times and I just can't imagine ANYWHERE hotter. Like. I can't describe it. There were times I thought my head was on fire. Seriously. I would literally reach and feel the top of my head just to make sure. I know this is going to sound super corny, but once I piled my dreadlocks on top of my head, the feeling went away and the top my head actually felt a little cooler.

And also, it's not a perfect science due to the fact that:
1. It takes MANY years for an animal to adapt to their environment. It does not happen overnight.

2. India has a history of conquering/being conquered by other ethnic groups that have changed the way a lot of them look. There are some Indians today that are extremely light with green eyes and straight hair...
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Any place near the equator (many west african countries included) have extremely hot climate, with more direct sunlight. In fact, I think the southern hemisphere receives more sunlight than the northern.

Anyway, I say this to say that I'm hesitant to buy the "it was so hot, and the hair protected them theory" because there are places in teh world that are just as hot, especially along the equator (Libya, Death Valley, CA, etc).

Given that water seems to be a miracle ingredient for our hair, and I know, at least present day, water is sometimes a scarce resource in certain parts of Africa, I wonder if it was a scarcity of water that might have played a role....I have absolutely no scientific bearing for that statement, and am not familiar with Africa's geological past.

Just thinking outside the box...
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Any place near the equator (many west african countries included) have extremely hot climate, with more direct sunlight. In fact, I think the southern hemisphere receives more sunlight than the northern.

Anyway, I say this to say that I'm hesitant to buy the "it was so hot, and the hair protected them theory" because there are places in teh world that are just as hot, especially along the equator (Libya, Death Valley, CA, etc).

Given that water seems to be a miracle ingredient for our hair, and I know, at least present day, water is sometimes a scarce resource in certain parts of Africa, I wonder if it was a scarcity of water that might have played a role....I have absolutely no scientific bearing for that statement, and am not familiar with Africa's geological past.

Just thinking outside the box...
Originally Posted by springyhead
The reason why I buy into this theory is because we are talking about where the first people were. At the time there were people in Africa, places like present day California had not been populated yet. If everyone stayed where they were and people did not mix, about 10,000 years or so later, people in regions would begin to look the same.
Also, before colonialism, West Africa was extremely rich with resources (water, gold, diamonds, soil for planting, fishing, etc.). The first people in West Africa ate well and looked great due to all their gold and diamonds.

Also, it's been proven that the more melanin you have in your skin, the more protected you are from the sun (not immune like Superman, but more protected). We also all know that if you put a hat on, your head is more protected. It's logical to conclude that if you have something on your head already that is super thick and coily and close to your head, it acts like a hat.
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Holy Grails:
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Last edited by NubianCoils; 06-10-2009 at 10:06 AM.
Any place near the equator (many west african countries included) have extremely hot climate, with more direct sunlight. In fact, I think the southern hemisphere receives more sunlight than the northern.

Anyway, I say this to say that I'm hesitant to buy the "it was so hot, and the hair protected them theory" because there are places in teh world that are just as hot, especially along the equator (Libya, Death Valley, CA, etc).

Given that water seems to be a miracle ingredient for our hair, and I know, at least present day, water is sometimes a scarce resource in certain parts of Africa, I wonder if it was a scarcity of water that might have played a role....I have absolutely no scientific bearing for that statement, and am not familiar with Africa's geological past.

Just thinking outside the box...
Originally Posted by springyhead
The reason why I buy into this theory is because we are talking about where the first people were. At the time there were people in Africa, places like present day California had not been populated yet. If everyone stayed where they were and people did not mix, about 10,000 years or so later, people in regions would begin to look the same.
Also, before colonialism, West Africa was extremely rich with resources (water, gold, diamonds, soil for planting, fishing, etc.). The first people in West Africa ate well and looked great due to all their gold and diamonds.

Also, it's been proven that the more melanin you have in your skin, the more protected you are from the sun (not immune like Superman, but more protected). We also all know that if you put a hat on, your head is more protected. It's logical to conclude that if you have something on your head already that is super thick and coily and close to your head, it acts like a hat.
Originally Posted by NubianCoils
LOL! I know that's right, because in the summertime, my fro is like a hot @ss hat. It actually makes my head hotter though, which is why I'm using cornrows as a resort from the heat of the sun beating down on my thick hair. My scalp needs air. No afro-hat for me this summer.

The reason why I buy into this theory is because we are talking about where the first people were. At the time there were people in Africa, places like present day California had not been populated yet. If everyone stayed where they were and people did not mix, about 10,000 years or so later, people in regions would begin to look the same.
Originally Posted by NubianCoils
Hey NubianCoils. I love these type of discussions, so forgive me beforehand for being verbose. About this statement. The oldest civilizations and bones are def found in Africa (East Africa, I believe) and both history, genetics, and archeology points to Africa being home to mankind. Got it. But if folks migrated from there years ago to uninhabited lands, who would they be "mixing" with? And if the migrants located to climates of similar temperature, what else about the climate would cause their hair to change from ribbonlike (the shape of our strands), flat, and tightly coiled, to more oval shaped, wavy/straight hair?
Also, before colonialism, West Africa was extremely rich with resources (water, gold, diamonds, soil for planting, fishing, etc.). The first people in West Africa ate well and looked great due to all their gold and diamonds.
Except from recent historical records, I have no idea how folks looked thousands of years ago. Plus, I know more about East Africa than west. But Africa definitely is resource rich, just don't know if abundance of water has been one of them. I'm not expressing doubt with that statement...I really just don't know!

Also, it's been proven that the more melanin you have in your skin, the more protected you are from the sun (not immune like Superman, but more protected). We also all know that if you put a hat on, your head is more protected. It's logical to conclude that if you have something on your head already that is super thick and coily and close to your head, it acts like a hat.
Yes, I get the melanin. And still, you'll find darker people in warmer climates. The hair, however, is still a mystery. Sometimes the hair is still tightly coiled and dry (like with some Indonesians) but most of the world seems to have lost that trait, regardless of temperature. Their actual hair structures have changed. So is there something else in the environment that caused this change?

But I guess we can ask the same question about other ethnic features too. Why do some folks have thin lips? Why are some Asian's eyes more almond shaped? There are so many variables that play a part of any given trait (including sexual selection), that, once again, it's hard for me to believe it's just one reason (in this case, temperature).

But i dunno. I tend to think too much
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No problem, Springyhead! I suggest reading about environmental factors and how they effect animals (not just us). Just about every evoluntionary change in our appearance can be easily explained to adapting to our enviornment. People didn't just turn white or start to have straight hair for no reason. Even our nose and lip shapes are due to us adapting to our environment. I'm going to answer some of your questions while still attempting to not write a book:

But if folks migrated from there years ago to uninhabited lands, who would they be "mixing" with?

To clarify let me give you an example: So Africans start to migrate and some decide they are going to head over to what is now the Dominican Republic. Over thousands of years, these Africans no long look like they did, they now have lighter skin (they don't need as much melanin) and there hair starts to get less coily. Remember, this is taking THOUSANDS of years. Ok, so now these people look completely different. Fast forward a few thousand years. Here comes colonization and slavery. And with it comes white and black people. In the end they all mix up and now the people of the Dominican Republic all look different and varied. But if you gave these people that are on the island right now thousands more years without any other people coming to the island, the enviornment would change them all right back to the appearance that best suits them to be able to survive. This applies to places all over the world. Take Egypt. The ancient Egyptians looked one way around 5000 BC but by 500 AD they looked completely different cause they had conquered people who assimilated into their country and THEY had been conquered by people who assimilated into their country...

Except from recent historical records, I have no idea how folks looked thousands of years ago. Plus, I know more about East Africa than west. But Africa definitely is resource rich, just don't know if abundance of water has been one of them. I'm not expressing doubt with that statement...I really just don't know!

I would first recommend books by Cheikh Anta Diop. Marvelous scientist who proved the statements I've made are true. His books are a wonderful read! I'm not trying to blow you off, I just don't want to make you read through what is already becoming a painfully long post. The sad thing is books like this at one point were banned or "out of print" because they painted black people in such a good light - first people to walk the earth, first to have a civilization, technically we're ALL black cause the African's migrated, etc. And honestly, you still kinda have to search for them but you can still find them. And yes, there was plenty of water supply in Africa. A lot of the problems that present day Africans face are directly linked to colonization.

Yes, I get the melanin. And still, you'll find darker people in warmer climates. The hair, however, is still a mystery. Sometimes the hair is still tightly coiled and dry (like with some Indonesians) but most of the world seems to have lost that trait, regardless of temperature. Their actual hair structures have changed. So is there something else in the environment that caused this change?

See, if you look at present day people, that's not a good example. There really hardly is a place in this day and age that another race has not moved to. Take South Africa. It ALREADY doesn't look the way it did just 400 years ago because of Europeans that have moved there and have mixed with the natives. Now you have people that are tan, red, etc. Thousands of years ago after the Africans migrated, they had thousands more years for their appearance to change in whatever environment they were in without hardly any interferance from another race of people.

Hope this explains some stuff!!! And sorry it's so long. I really did try....

PS - I encourage you to do your own reading on this if you are interested. I learned so much that made me so happy and proud to be who I am. I also had a period where I was SUPER PISSED that this is not common knowledge and taught in schools, but I got over it....
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