There are reasons you look the way you do.
- A panel of eight experts in the evolution of the human face have collaborated on a new summary of how we've changed.
- Their paper promotes the importance of social interaction as a factor in the structure of our visages.
- We can visually express more than 20 categories of emotion. Early humans not so much.
A gathering of face experts<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQwMzM1Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjEyMzUyMn0.IN98rvCZzrux-z84KL5HWmZ6ipkLBwQQN3SMX08WfGI/img.jpg?width=980" id="d6a3a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3a434f6b4c927754640c331340706967" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Rodrigo Lacruz<p>The new paper is the work of eight of the world's foremost experts in the evolution of the human face. At its heart is an attempt to answer a very basic question: Why do we look so different from other, extinct hominins, as well as our primate cousins such as chimpanzees and bonobos? Our faces have gotten smaller over time. The question is why? "We know that other factors such as diet, respiratory physiology, and climate have contributed to the shape of the modern human face," <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/features/2019/social-skills-shape-modern-human-face/" target="_blank">says</a> <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/staff/academic-staff/paul-ohiggins/" target="_blank">Paul O'Higgins</a> of the University of York, one of the experts involved, "but to interpret its evolution solely in terms of these factors would be an oversimplification."</p><p>University of Arizona's <a href="https://isearch.asu.edu/profile/108845" target="_blank">William Kimbell</a>, also involved in the study, <a href="https://iho.asu.edu/news/history-humanity-your-face" target="_blank">puts it this way</a>: "We are a product of our past. Understanding the process by which we became human entitles us to look at our own anatomy with wonder and to ask what different parts of our anatomy tell us about the historical pathway to modernity."</p>
The shrinking human jaw<p>Our changing diet is thought to be the primary factor in the reduction in size of our jaws that began as we started cooking and cutting-up our foods about 10,000 years ago. We no longer needed such crushing mandibles to make our way through our omnivorous diet, and the benefit of strong chewing capabilities became less of a factor in natural selection. It's likely no coincidence that the trend toward a smaller chin accelerated with advent of the beginning of the agriculture.</p>
Fitting in<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQwNDE0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjA0NTAwOH0.f9tSJSgHoogSOcFvIGI7Js_ipNG-8MRPK_3NchzSqK8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=58%2C52%2C58%2C52&height=700" id="dee61" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="adf9846ae736d1cba965d027c7953f44" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Are we there yet?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQwNDE0Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjYzNTY5Nn0.XoeXfnvNHI74A3V0DrcxEikq_MjCyHvwp5sTgrHRgjY/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=141%2C148%2C141%2C148&height=700" id="2f75b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="12a0852ea6751b6f2ac117fed392170f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
O'Higgins looks back, and forward. Image source: University of York<p>According to O'Higgins, most likely we're not done evolving. "There are limits on how much the human face can change, however. For example, breathing requires a sufficiently large nasal cavity. However, within these limits, the evolution of the human face is likely to continue as long as our species survives, migrates and encounters new environmental, social and cultural conditions."</p><p>So, that face. Your face. It's part of a long, ongoing story starring your ancestors and their ancestors. It's an interesting way to see that person looking back at you from the mirror.</p>
Researchers at Human Longevity have developed technology that can generate images of individuals face using only their genetic information. But not all are convinced.
What if a computer could generate a realistic image of your face using only your genetic information?