The symmetry of one’s facial features are a general indicator of good health, scientists have concluded after conducting a study on a group of macaque monkeys. Researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland and America’s the National Institutes of Health “analysed facial symmetry using a computer to measure the distance of various features, like the edges of the nostrils, lips and eyes, from a line drawn down the centre of the monkey’s face.” The scientists then looked at the overall health of the monkeys during their first four years of life by comparing veterinary records and evidence of health problems. As the monkey’s symmetry scores declined, so did their health.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Facial as well as body symmetry has long been known to partially determine our concept of beauty. In scientific surveys, people with more symmetric faces are considered more attractive and people tend to look at them longer than asymmetrical faces. Evolutionary biologists say our attraction to symmetry originates in our drive to survive: “Unfit individuals are less likely than fitter folk to be able to maintain the symmetrical development of their bodies when exposed to stress and disease. … As an animal is unlikely to want to mix its genes with an unfit or diseased partner, evolution selects symmetry as an attractive trait.”