Humans aren’t the only animals that can grow facial hair! Lots of animals in the animal kingdom have some seriously cool beards. Let’s check out some of the most impressive furry faces in the wild.
You’ve probably seen pictures of these shaggy orange apes before. Orangutans are known for the long, reddish facial hair that frames their faces. The males develop these distinctive beards as they mature. An adult male orangutan’s cheek pads and throat sac will also turn into a greyish-white colour as they age. Pretty fancy!
These beards aren’t just for show, either. An orangutan’s beard helps make it look bigger and stronger to intimidate rivals and impress females. The more hair an orangutan has, the more dominant it is. He may wave his hair around to look even bigger if he wants to scare off an enemy. You don’t want to mess with an orangutan and its crazy beard!
Bornean Bearded Pig
This funny-looking pig lives in the tropical forests of Borneo. It’s sometimes called the bearded babirusa. As you probably guessed from the name, these pigs have a scruffy beard! The hair tuft sticks straight out from their chins. They almost look like they have a goatee.
Both male and female bearded pigs grow this facial decoration. Scientists think it might help amplify their senses of smell and touch. The hairs are packed with nerve endings. So, their beard helps them detect things better as they snuffle around with their nose.
You can’t have a list of animals with beards without the king of the jungle himself: the lion! Male lions are known for their glorious manes surrounding their faces. A lion’s mane makes it look bigger, more intimidating and more mature.
A male lion starts growing its mane around age 2. It takes 5-7 years for it to reach full size. The best way to tell a male lion from a female is to look for this mane of hair around its head. Some male lions that live in hotter climates have less hair since they don’t need as much protection from other lions. But most lions have an impressive beard that would make any hipster jealous!
Let’s take a break from mammals to look at a very fancy bird – the bearded barbet. This small green bird lives in the rainforests of Africa, India and Southeast Asia. It gets its name from the curly black and yellow feathers hanging below its beak like a beard.
Both males and females have this decoration around their faces. It almost looks like the barbet styled its feathers into an elaborate moustache and beard! This unique look helps attract mates and establish dominance over other birds. Those are some fancy feathers.
Returning to mammals, bison are famous for the thick furry beards on their chins. Male bison especially develop a scruffy beard as they age. It’s a sign of maturity and strength. The beard helps keep them warm through harsh winters, too.
Early American drawings and descriptions of bison often focused on their long beard and the hair on their heads. Their shaggy appearance was a key part of their image. So, if you picture a wise old bison, you’re probably imagining it with a beard!
Ibex are wild goats that live in mountainous areas across Europe, Asia and Africa. Both male and female ibex grow long chin beards and shoulder manes as they age. Their impressive beards help them be noticed during the mating season.
And get this – an ibex’s beard has hair on both sides! Most goat beards only grow hair on the outside. But ibex hair follicles are two-sided, creating a full and bushy beard. An ibex can point its beard differently by moving the muscles under its skin. It’s useful when you want to look good on the rocky cliffs.