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The Great Darwin Beard Challenge – Month 2

April 13, 2009

thaler-8And the sun rose high upon the 13th day of the second month, the elder light shone down to reveal the glory that is five four bearded warriors. There was the Southern Fried Scientist, who’s mane flowed freely from the top and bottom of his face, who chose to be casual, yet classy.  His Hawaiian shirt reminding everyone that, though they were equals in the eyes of Charles, he lived at the beach.

kevin-8And there was Kevin, born of sand people, praised by those who fear bearded men for the power they possess. Revered above all for the power to exude a foul stench when bored. He who owns but two shirts, and strikes the same pose no matter what. Also, his head looks really big in this picture.

But there is sorrow in our glory, for though it was we who initially conceived of this challenge, we find ourselves trailing behind. The infidels who joined our ranks have proven to be beardier than we.

week8_danielWell, not beardier than all. One coward has left our ranks. Fallen to the acurse-ed professional meeting, he could not bear a face that was not bare. David the second has shaved.

But tragedy comes in all guises, not the least of which is the grim woodsman, Irradiatus, who looks as though he might hunt you down with a bowie knife, Natural Selection style.

I am afraid of the man behind those shades.

But not nearly as scared as I am of this man…

picture-7“My name is Sharkmandias, beard of beards, look upon my face, ye mighty, and despair.”

~Southern Fried Scientist

34 Comments leave one →
  1. davemunger permalink
    April 13, 2009 4:25 pm

    Very nice! I think it’s going to take more than a few months to get full Darwin-sized beards. Maybe you’ll have to extend the challenge for an extra year…

    • April 13, 2009 5:30 pm

      The competition is only 25% done. 6 months is a long time to grow beard.

    • whysharksmatter permalink*
      April 13, 2009 6:30 pm

      I’m already at the point where I can run my fingers through my beard so that you can’t see my fingers through all the hair….

    • April 13, 2009 8:55 pm

      I think mine and Kevin’s are very similar. Andrew, your two ‘stache strips are just redneck-rad. David’s is so thick I would say it’s a glue on if I hadn’t seen it in person at his (awesome) shark talk at Duke.

      • April 13, 2009 9:33 pm

        I guess it’s a small consolation being the redneckiest.

  2. Karen permalink
    April 13, 2009 4:39 pm

    “grim woodsman” just made me spray vanilla tea onto my laptop, for which I will dole out some grammatical pedantry as punishment:

    “he could not bear a face that was not bare” (as in a baby’s bum)


    “he could not bear a face that was bear” (as in bear-like, as in grizzly)

    but not

    “he could not bear a face that was not bear” (as in makes no sense at all)

    • April 13, 2009 4:45 pm

      a frantic pedantic is not sycophantic

  3. April 13, 2009 8:02 pm

    AHHHHH! Please don’t kill me with your natural selection of doom, Irradiatus!!! And WhySharksMatter looks like he is lying grimly on the floor of a jail cell (has he taken poaching enforcement into his grim, grim hands?)

    • April 13, 2009 8:04 pm

      I’d say he should be in jail, but that would be a bald faced lie…

      someone stop me, please

      • whysharksmatter permalink*
        April 13, 2009 8:45 pm

        Bald-faced… I get it. Because there’s so much hair on my face! HA!

    • April 13, 2009 8:38 pm

      Ha – I like the Bowie knife reference, considering I grew up in Bowie County, Texas. Oh yes, a redneck was I. Just see this for proof (hilarious redneck child = me).

      Don’t worry, Miriam – my doom selects FOR cool ocean chicks.

      • whysharksmatter permalink*
        April 13, 2009 10:25 pm

        That is not actually you holding a squirrel, is it? Mother of pearl…

        So you’re going to be practicing some recreational Darwinism with your Bowie knife?

  4. April 13, 2009 10:27 pm

    Where do I even begin on this one?!? You are all looking quite….wow. I can’t even imagine what you gentlemen will look like when I see you all next month. Perhaps “science blogger road trip” should be renamed “road trip of beards”. 🙂

    Kevin, you do wear the same shirt a lot! Rotate…

    David….you’re looking more Jesus than Darwin.

    • whysharksmatter permalink*
      April 13, 2009 10:57 pm

      I’ve often been told that I’m Christ-like, but never because of my facial hair before. More because my mother thinks I’m God, actually.

      • April 14, 2009 1:15 am

        judging from your final four pictures, I think the more precise term is budda-esque

      • April 14, 2009 7:42 am

        ooooo burn!

  5. April 14, 2009 1:43 am

    i think dave munger has a point… while individual genetics apparently plays a big role in growth rates, an “average” beard growth rate appears to be a ½ inch/month… if so, you’ll all have hefty beards by the fall, but not quite ready as zz top stand-ins…

    but a little research indicates a fun (and satisfying) strategy for pulling ahead (no pun intended)…

    in The Dependent Gene (Holt Paperbacks, 2003), author David Moore describes a quasi-controlled study undertaken by an island-bound scientist… the study suggested correlations among activity level, sleep, libido, and intercourse revealed “a most marked increase in beard growth” on “the day of return to the mainland and the initial resumption of sexual activity”… the likely cause of this effect was traced to the ability of sexual activity to increase men’s testosterone secretion…

    this was determined by measuring beard growth in response to oral ingestion of both placebos and hormones… as expected, ingestions of the androgens (testosterone, androsterone, and methyl testosterone) led to increased beard growth similar in magnitude to the increases observed after resuming sexual activity…

    the island-bound scientist in the study also reported changes in beard growth were observed to occur as a consequence of significantly subtler events… for example, the mere presence of a particular female company [i presume the study scientist was heterosexual] in the absence of intercourse, after a period of separation, usually caused an obvious increase in beard growth… this is truly remarkable insofar as it suggests that purely psychological events occurring in the absence of physical stimuli might be able to affect the activity of genes (by way of the mediating influence of our hormones)…

    so, the ocean scientists might have an edge in this game… the trick will be to schedule some strategic time at sea (no cheating and no onanistic diversions) and upon return get some serious freak on… if you get a spike in beard growth, you win! if you don’t, you win!

    just doing my small part in the service of darwin…

    • April 14, 2009 12:04 pm


    • April 14, 2009 2:46 pm

      so what you’re saying is there’s a correlation between beard growth and evolutionary fitness? Darwin was right!

  6. April 14, 2009 7:44 am

    That’s a lot of facial hair.

    It’s a little scary.

  7. April 14, 2009 7:49 am

    Lookin’ good, gents. I think we’re all grateful that you didn’t go for Darwin’s earlier muttonchops look.

    • davemunger permalink
      April 14, 2009 12:55 pm

      That should have been phase 1, the first two months. Then move on to a three-year Full Darwin Experience.

  8. ashlily permalink
    April 14, 2009 10:27 pm


    You know why the beard’s so scary….you now look like the evil bastard child of Sylar and Wolf Blitzer. My soul quakes with terror.

    Please shave before August. Think of the children.

  9. notmyrealm permalink
    April 19, 2009 4:53 am

    Rick MacPherson got a little wordy with his response on this one…goodness. Rick, what’d you think this was…an ethical debate? lol. Can’t biologists have fun, too? As I can recall, David points out (quite frequently, in fact) that he has a “normal” life as well…which, when looking at that beard, seems questionable…I do believe him!

  10. Emma permalink
    April 19, 2009 3:02 pm

    This is a hilarious contest! I love that although you guys originally intended to do this just for fun between you, this could actually be publicized to show younger audiences that learning about science can be fun in real life. For example, after learning about Darwin and his evolutionary theories a class of students could follow your contest or start their own similar contest. This would provide an incentive for learning about scientific principles while also being able to apply related concepts to true situations in a fun way. Way to go, and good luck!

  11. April 20, 2009 9:17 pm

    Sharkmandias wins by a long shot. I think it is mighty close to Darwin size already, y’all are crazy.

  12. stir2006 permalink
    April 21, 2009 9:12 am

    This is great! LOL! I feel this is a way to have fun and incorporate science as well!I think it might be kind of a close race but I think Sharkmandias is in the lead and going to pull it out!

  13. AngelGEEK permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:56 pm

    Sharkmandias looks more scared then scary. I also think he wins the beard contest!

  14. Neldam0303 permalink
    April 22, 2009 12:30 am

    wow. wish i could grow my beard like that.this is such a good contest. Darwin would be proud!

  15. May 12, 2009 8:14 am

    We are nearing Month 3 now. Your ravenous hordes of fans demand an update!

    • whysharksmatter permalink*
      May 12, 2009 11:14 am

      We are working on it as we speak, expect an update soon.


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    The Southern Fried Scientist

    Andrew is a graduate student in North Carolina studying deep sea biology. When not in the lab, he spends his time out on the water, usually swearing at his boat while simultaneously sacrificing some important tool to Poseidon in a desperate attempt to make the motor start. That is, assuming he can get his truck running long enough to actually put the boat in the water. He enjoys long walks on the beach, by necessity. Follow him on Twitter @SFriedScientist.


    David is a graduate student in South Carolina studying shark conservation. He is the author of the upcoming book “Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help”. His time is divided between educating the public about sharks, spending days at a time at sea playing with sharks, and eating horribly unhealthy foods. Follow him on Twitter @WhySharksMatter.

    bluegrass blue crab

    Amy is a graduate student in North Carolina studying local ecological knowledge within the blue crab fishery. She spends half her life studying the most charismatic of organisms - humans - and the estuaries on which they depend. While not contemplating grand social theories, she enjoys a good jam session and watching sunsets over the estuary. Follow her on Twitter @bgrassbluecrab.

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