Report: Unique Human Faces Evolved To Signal Individual Identity

As the importance of interpersonal interaction grew, so did variations in our ancestors' facial appearance. This why the face and it features are the most diverse parts of the human body.

The reason you've got a different nose than the person who lives next door isn't just because you have different parents. A new report in Nature Communications suggests that our diverse facial features can be linked to an evolutionary development from eons ago that corresponded with the increased importance of interpersonal interaction.

Basically, when our early ancestors began to prioritize social relationships for the purposes of assistance and fellowship, it became more useful to be able to tell individuals apart from others. This is why, of all the parts of a human body, facial features are the most diverse. Michael Sheehan, one of the UC Berkeley researchers behind the study, told National Geographic that a unique human face is like an evolutionary nametag.

Sheehan and his team stress that while identifiability may be a primary reason why we all developed different features, other factors could definitely have been at play. Specific features were probably favored in sexual selection, others by environmental factors. 

Keep reading at Smithsonian Mag & National Geographic

Photo credit: JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock

For a broader discussion on evolution as a whole, check out this clip from Big Think expert Kirk Johnson, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History:

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Calling out Cersei Lannister: Elizabeth Warren reviews Game of Thrones

The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.

Photo credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
  • Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
  • Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
Keep reading Show less

Following sex, some men have unexpected feelings – study

A new study shows that some men's reaction to sex is not what you'd expect, resulting in a condition previously observed in women.

Credit: Pixabay
Sex & Relationships
  • A new study shows men's feelings after sex can be complex.
  • Some men reportedly get sad and upset.
  • The condition affected 41% of men in the study
Keep reading Show less
  • Climate change is no longer a financial problem, just a political one.
  • Mitigating climate change by decarbonizing our economy would add trillions of dollars in new investments.
  • Public attitudes toward climate change have shifted steadily in favor of action. Now it's up to elected leaders.