Now, notice that I said human, because there are several animals with beards. In fact, doing a quick search on "bearded animals" and several strange Google results later, here are a couple of pictures of our "fellow-beards" of the animal kingdom.
First, the Bearded Collie. Looking at it I think they might have missed the fact that the beard was the least prominent thing about this dog. Or maybe, they decided that they had had more than enough "long-haired" canine varieties to use this descriptor again. But, here it is, a beautiful specimen of the Bearded Collie.
Reminds me of a dog my grandparents had, named Bosky. Very nice dog. But the other kids in the neighborhood used to call him the "dog who couldn't see" because of the fur that always seemed to obstruct his vision. He he he... Click here for more information about these dogs.
Then, the Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture. Now, before I repeat the comment I made about the beard on this animal being the least noticeable feature when you look at it, at first glance, I would like to say that this sort of "facial growth" is less common in birds making it stand out no matter how small. Having said that, it does seem to have a a formidable set of talons, and the sharp beak with the dirty, reddish-brown plumage gives it a "bad boy" aura. According to Wikipedia.org though, it turns out that an adult bird will "rub mud over its chin, breast and leg feathers, giving these areas a rust-coloured appearance." I guess everyone is into makeup these days. Click here for more information about these birds.
And finally, from the kingdom of reptiles, the Bearded Dragon of Australia. Why do lizards need beards? Well, according to Wikipedia.org again, "When threatened, they will expand a spiny pouch under their jaw, as well as inhale air and puff up to make them appear larger. The pouch resembles a beard, lending the animal their name." Pretty cool. And, as it turns out, these lizards, which are an iguana sub-species, are considered to be relatively docile pets. How about that, eh? And here I am having to ready myself for the gigantic lizards who are now commonplace in most urban Indian households. Pets they are not! Click here for more information about this variety of iguana.
Now, as much as I would have liked to follow those images up with one of moi titled "The Bearded Malayalee," I have to say that I am powerless to act on this urge because I haven't yet fixed my trusty SE-K850i. But, having said that, there are people who will thank their stars for not having my 'bearded' mug to have to throw up about. Be that as it may though, the point I was trying to make was that a random search on Google turned up the apparently HUGE following on beard-culture.
It's strange, but at a time when I thought that I was doing something a little against the grain, it turns out that I am not alone. In fact, I'm way behind! For starters, take a look at this website that just celebrated its 12th year on the Internet earlier this year! Now there's a not-for-profit online venture if I ever saw one. And that's a mighty fine sample of facial hair too! Notice the body and the shine of those finely groomed whiskers.
And then I thought I should look up to see what information there was about "beards" in general. I mean, I had already been bombarded with advanced search strings like "how to grow a beard" and "beard types". Oh, speaking of types, check out this page with generic drawings of the various "beard styles" from Beards.org. So, I decided to check out Wikipedia.org for what I thought would be a simple definition. What I found for a definition of beard was, "In the course of history, men with facial hair have been ascribed various attributes such as wisdom, sexual virility, or high social status; and, conversely, filthiness, crudeness, or an eccentric disposition, such as in the case of a tramp, hobo or vagrant." Ouch! Let me say that again. Ouch!!! While I recover from that, why don't you check out the "Beard" page from Wikipedia.org.
With a definition like that, heavily opinionated though it was and this must be said, I was crestfallen and felt otherwise dejected. Why did I decide to go ahead and grow a beard? What made me want to emulate "hobos" and "tramps" all of a sudden? Did I have nothing better to do? Well, I've always wanted to attempt to grow my goatee long enough for me to be able to put some beads in it. Let's see how the experiment turns out this time. And am I going to enter it in a competition? What? You think I stand a chance? You think the guy on the Wikipedia.org page has a gnarly beard? Then please check out these champions from the "World Beard and Moustache Championships."
In a class of their own, for sure. And, I have no intentions of getting caught up at this level of "hair-raising" competition. I don't stand a chance...not even by the "hair of my chinny chin chin." Hats off to these gents! All I want is my share of insanity in the sun.
And have I managed to settle the debate of how much of a role the beard plays in the seduction of the "fairer sex" as I mentioned in the beginning? Seriously, I hope not. From serving some apparent purpose in nature, as in the case of the Bearded Dragon, to being purely ornamental for human beings, a beard is one of those things that you have to let "grow on you". And ladies, I only mean that as a figure of speech. ;-)