Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Do other animals go bald?

The Bald Eagle, although spectacular, is not really bald. The Northern Bald Ibis (pictured) is not really bald either. It's baldness is more an extension of its facial skin. I, on the other hand, am really bald. After having Beth give me my monthly buzzcut today, I pondered, "Do other animals go bald like humans do?"

Male pattern baldness is triggered by DHT, a powerful sex hormone (booyah!) and hair growth promoter that can adversely affect the hair and prostate. The mechanism by which DHT accomplishes this is not yet understood. In genetically-prone scalps, DHT initiates a process of follicular miniaturization. Through the process of follicular miniaturization, hair shaft width is progressively decreased until scalp hair resembles fragile vellus hair or "peach fuzz" or else becomes non-existent. Onset of hair loss sometimes begins as early as end of puberty, and is mostly genetically determined (NOT necessarily from the mother's side, I'm proof).

I did discover that a number of other primate species also experience hair loss following puberty, and some primate species clearly use an enlarged forehead, created both anatomically and through strategies such as frontal balding, to convey increased status and maturity. This made me recall seeing chimpanzees and gorillas with receding hairlines on TV documentaries. They are usually the older, more dominant males.

Alas, I could not find any information about other mammal species having any form of pattern baldness. Are there balding tigers running around the forests? Are there folicly-challenged shrews scurrying about? What about cueball whales swimming in our seas? If anyone has any info on this, please let me know.


LauraHinNJ said...

Maybe the ones likely to be bald wear crests? Like people wear hats to hide a bad hair day?


The peach fuzz look works for you, Patrick!

Patrick Belardo said...


I know plenty of humans who wear hats to hide baldness too! Maybe I should grow a crest?

birdchick said...

Admit it, Patrick, you're going bald because you're crawling inside deer carcasses and you have trouble getting the dead meat bits out of your hair.

Patrick Belardo said...

Hahaha, the truth comes out... I have indeed been feasting on dead deer carcasses. Someone has to keep these NJ roads clean!