Hair or fur

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A note for Lesson no. 3, "Little Brains Wire Themselves to Their World," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 47 is: infant chimp can cling to its mother’s hair.

Do chimpanzees have hair or fur? Some sources say fur [1][2] whereas others say it's hair.[3][4][5]

According to expert Eliza Bliss-Moreau (a former PhD student of mine), hair and fur are chemically identical. They are traditionally distinguished by the density of follicles per mm3 of skin, but even that is not a consistent definition. Apparently, hair has three main types: ground hair, guard hair, and whiskers. Ground hair and guard hair can be classified as fur. Ground hair is soft and is used for insulation, whereas guard hair is coarser and is used for protection from the elements. Because human hair is in between ground and guard hair, it can be reasonably classified as fur.[6]


  1. Schultz, Colin. 2014. "Why Don’t Chimpanzees Have Long, Luscious Locks?" Smithsonian Magazine, May 9.
  2. Alex, Bridget. 2019. "Why Humans Lost Their Hair and Became Naked and Sweaty." Discover, January 17.
  3. Dryden, Jim. 2004. "Don’t call it fur!" The Source, Washington University of St. Louis, December 27.
  4. Center for Great Apes. "Great Ape Protection."
  5. Jane Goodall Institute UK. "Chimp Facts."
  6. Hutchinson, Sean. 2014. "What’s the Difference Between Hair and Fur?" Mental Floss, October 31.