Males With Beards Have Smaller Testicles
Beards are the new Beamers.
Even if you can’t really judge a guy’s manhood by his wheels, you just might be able to do so by his scruff: According to a new study, facial hair may also be a sign of small balls.
The study, “Sexual ornaments but not weapons trade off against testes size in primates,” published this month in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, compares men’s beards to other signs of fertility in primates, including large noses, hair capes and red chest patches for respective species.
Hair is considered an “ornament” — an outward display of masculinity — and testes a “weapon,” a way to actually sexually compete with other males in the species by reproduction.
The research found that humans as well as large primates physically lack the energy to have both a large ballsack and bushy facial hair at the same time, the study shows. Whether the hair manifests as a beard on human men, or fluffy sideburns on a monkey, it doesn’t matter: Neither have the capacity to produce lots of sperm while growing copious amounts of facial hair.
“In a nutshell, the showiest males have the smallest testes,” says Stefan Lüpold, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Zurich, who with his colleagues compared 100 primate species’ (including humans’) sexual traits.
But they also found that having a beard might still be helpful when it comes to reproduction. Hairier primates are perceived to be more masculine, healthy and fertile, and thus more attractive to mating females. So even if they don’t have the actual balls to match, they might still attract lots of mates. If they’ve got larger balls (and thereby more sperm), they might not be as attractively hairy, meaning they might not get the same chance a bushier primate would with a mate.
Though many other factors come into play when reproducing — including population density — the research concludes that beards and balls are evolutionary trade-offs.
So, if you’re a beard-loving lady, don’t expect more than meets the eye. But if you find a man is struggling to grow facial hair, maybe he’s, um, evolutionally endowed in other ways.
“It’s hard to have it all,” says Lüpold. “Big testicles come with large weapons — but less ornamentation.”