Hot answers tagged

78

A mermaid that "realistically" evolved would look very different from the traditional mermaid in many ways. But let's assume that your mermaids do look like the classic type. Why do they have hair? Option one: Sexual selection Your mermaids evolved from a human-like species. The hair was so important to their mating process that it remained even as other ...


49

You would end up with a head full of horns or quills. Human hair is made from keratin. It's the same with your fingernails and toenails. In fine form, hair is soft and flexible. With thicker amounts of keratin, it becomes stiff. In the animal world, most horns have a bone core covered with a thin sheath of keratin. Since we lack boney protrusions on our ...


44

When I think of real people with long hair under water, I think of a large cloud of hair. That kind of obfuscation could be quite an advantage against any predator that likes to strike quickly and forcefully. For bonus points, the more mermaids there are, the bigger the cloud of hair. At this point, I'm thinking of zebras and the striped blur the herd ...


38

It makes more sense if we consider mermaids to be the origin for the siren legend. In this legend sirens/mermaids called to sailors and fooled them into wrecking their boats on reefs or cliffs. Presumably, the sailors then become food for the mermaids. In order for this deception to work, they have to look like beautiful women, and beautiful women have ...


21

Long hair is inherited from the common ancestors of humans and merpeople. In-hair-itance As whales evolved from an ancestor of the hippopotamus and manatees from an ancestor of the elephant, merpeople evolved from an ancestor of humans. Thus merpeople are a hominin species with aquatic adapted physiology and joined legs. DJMethaneMan's answer to "Why ...


19

I see some serious disadvantages: Such hairs would fold and crease versus bending, leading to hair snapping off and/or major split ends much more readily. Such hairs would, of structural necessity, have much thicker walls, leading to a massive per-hair weight; as a result, hair follicle depth would need to be far larger, leading to a monstrously deep ...


18

Here's a better question, how does hair benefit anyone? Hair has a variety of uses including indication[1], insulation, extension of touch, and in some cases protection(porcupine). I do not see why these qualities would not be applicable to water. Oh and FYI hair is also a nuisance to human maidens. [1]hair can indicate gender and age


15

The easiest way to answer questions is to look for examples: Dogs have fur, but don't find clothing particularly uncomfortable. Our dog even brings us her jumper and asks us to put it on when she gets cold!


14

Ok, now for something completely different! (although the existing answers are good enough). You think they have hair because that is what you have on your head, but for the merfolk is completely different. When the merfolk swin, the sea water passes through their hair. At that moment, the chemicals in their "hair" capture the floating ions/molecules of ...


11

(1) Ebola Changed one doctor's eye color from blue to green. Although in this specific case his eye color did change back, the article notes: Though it is quite rare for eye color to change so dramatically, this does happen from time to time as a result of viral infections and is usually permanent. Changes in color are usually due to the viral infection ...


8

It would be a very rigid cast system since it would be hard to impossible to change your lot in life. and what about bald people? or the aged? White haired old men and women? Do they get raised by virtue of age and wisdom? What about those who are bald? Where do they fit in? Is a shaved head a mark of shame, having their locks shorn from their head? ...


8

Hair that is iron-based could be manipulated with internal magnetic fields (say, just a bit of iron at the tip of each hair so it can be attracted/repelled as needed). It wouldn't have a strong grip one hair at a time, but Velcro gets lots of grip by grabbing on collectively.


7

Yes... ish. It turns out that blue pigment, in animals, is something that hasn't been figured out by evolution. A quick stroll over to Wikipedia shows a number of animals who quite obviously have blue parts. How is this done, then? Well, in the case of dogs, "blue" colors are just a slightly special form of grey. They're cute, but not truly blue. Just ...


7

On humans, the limit on color is whatever mixtures you can create using the two chemicals pheomelanin, and eumelanin. Pheomelanin gives the colors red and orange, and eumelanin gives black and brown. By mixing different amounts of these chemicals, you're limited to black, brown, blond, red, or white (on a broad scale), but you could theoretically naturally ...


7

Such a law would be useless. Aside from hair, a human body drops every day a lot of dead cells from its skin. Your law would simply address the easier to remove residuals, while the nastier ones would still be there. Incidentally, this is why any human accessing a microelectronic fab has to wear full gown: to prevent their body to pollute the ...


6

Some numbers to start: Human hair has a tensile strength of about 350-400 MPa. Spider Silk has a tensile strength of about 1000-1500 MPa. Typical 2x4s weigh about 1.5lbs/ft, so about 6lbs per sqft. There are approximately 150,000 strands on the average human head. Each strand can support almost 100g. Be conservative and safe, say 50g per strand. That's ...


6

Completely white eyes, I don't know, but I've known two people with icy blue eyes, almost silver, one of the prettiest things I've seen. As for white hair, I had a friend in grade 1 with natural white hair but not albino. Of course both are caused by melanin deficiency, and you said you didn't want that. However for white any way that's the most effective ...


6

If the merpeople's babies are relatively helpless or start as weak swimmers, head hair could remain as a useful point for the young to cling to as the adult swims around, keeping its arms free. This would be analogous to other ape young which cling to their mother's body. For the purposes of worldbuilding, you could run with this idea without needing to ...


6

Though maybe not the best solution, Depending on the environment, the Hair might just not be enough of a menace to be evolved away. Humans have advanced to such a degree that even heavily disadvantaged, we can still thrive. If the reasons to not have hair are simply for Speed and such, then if they with hair already move faster than they ever need to, there ...


6

Short answer: It's not possible. Anything that's fine enough to be hairlike won't be strong enough to grasp objects firmly. Prehensile tails require both muscles strong enough for grasping as well as the skeletal structure to support them. Something like a cephalopod's arm wouldn't work because they're dependent on being submerged to have a full range of ...


6

Ah! Fun question. As mentioned above, hair has a wall to it. If you look at magnified hair pictures, you can see that it looks fairly scaly. As hair grows longer, the hair kinda flakes off in tiny bits and the hair gets thinner. If you had wide follicles, you could imagine you might get something like more flexible fingernails that hang off the head. Having ...


5

Maybe the hair is vestigial? Depending on the evolution of the mermaids it could have served a purpose before.


5

Hair doesn't help humans either. We've evolved lack of hair on most of our body (for various disputed influences). Hair on the rest of our body may be a carry-over, and/or may have a sexual-preference element. If you want something more concrete, perhaps their hair isn't hair at all. The big problem for mammals underwater is how to breathe. If mermaids ...


5

Maybe they craft nets and fishing line out of it? I find it hard to imagine how a mermaid would evolve, I prefer the interpretation that they're something ancient wizards devised and just-so-happened to result in a viable species. They wouldn't be fast enough to catch fish directly and spears would only work until the fish evolved to be wary of anything ...


5

Perhaps it could have been used to attracted mates. There are birds that use various multicolored feathers to attracted mates. Perhaps the mere creatures use hair for the same reason.


5

No, it's not possible. Did you know that any visible hair you see is already "dead"? None of the cells in there are alive anymore. However, if you're okay with a bunch of mini monkey tails growing out of your head you could potentially have "hair" that can grab things.


5

Yes, it is possible. See cilia and flagellum. It may not be likely on the macro scale, but it is possible. You may end up with "hair" that is the thickness of a ribbon snake, if you want any strength to it, and of course damage to the members would likely feel quite intense. You may also not get much density to the hair per square inch of skin surface, ...


5

As @GerardFalla mentioned, the walls of the hair would need to be pretty thick. So, think of circular fingernails growing out of the head. What could be the benefits and issues of such? More than a eighth of an inch long (.25 cm) and it becomes pretty brittle unless there is a supporting, living medium inside. If they are dense enough, they would support ...


5

There are lots of things that can depigment hair and skin. Some drugs can do it, but that is reversible. Age of course can do it. Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition; affected skin loses pigment and hair coming from that skin can be white. It is possible to develop vitiligo because you have melanoma - an immune attack on the pigmented tumor cells also ...


4

For human hair and eyes the best way to add colors to the natural range would be if your cells would naturally produce other types of pigment. It would also be possible to produce colors by having structures that are the same size as the wavelength of those colors. You could get green hair for instance by having a yellow pigment combined with structures in ...


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