Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Has Science Taken a Brutalist Turn? Why Men’s Faces Look the Way They Do

Men's faces are designed to take a punch, women's faces are not. WaPo informs:
[A]ccording to a study by biologist David Carrier and physician Michael H. Morgan published this week in Biological Reviews, Balboa was less iron than a product of evolutionary adaptation. The male human evolved to look the way he does, scientists say, because such bone structure confers a high degree of protection during a fight. Balboa’s endurance was more science than machinery — though growing up in Philadelphia probably didn’t hurt.

The new theory both hints at our species’ profoundly violent past and challenges the long-held contention that our facial bone structure and strong jaws derived from our diet. The thinking was that contemporary and ancient bone structure emerged to “maximize strength” for the consumption of hard-to-crush items such as nuts, the study said.

But this compelling explanation said fisticuffs spawned our facial bone structure, a phenomenon that’s even more pronounced in men.

“When modern humans fight hand-to-hand the face is usually the primary target,” said co-author Carrier, a biologist at the University of Utah. “What we found was that the bones that suffer the highest rates of fracture in fights are the same parts of the skull that exhibited the greatest increase in robusticity during evolution. … These bones are also the parts of the skull that show the greatest difference between males and females. … In other words, male and female faces are different because the parts of the skull that break in fights are bigger in males.”...

Adding more credence to the theory, the study said, is that vital facial features — the flattening of the face, the widening of the cheek bones —  occurred at the same time our ancestors evolved hands that could make a fist. “Together these observations suggest that many of the facial features that characterize early hominids may have evolved to protect the face from injury during fighting with fists,” Carrier said.
Carrier said the study’s results were surprising. He hadn’t expected that the modern punch evolved at the same time as the modern skull, he wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post.
Another surprise: We’re less able to take a hit now than we were before. “For the past 2 million years the face of Homo has gradually become less robust,” Carrier wrote in an e-mail. “This is almost certainly due to several aspects of selection acting on our species.


  1. Fight for equality. Punch a feminist in the face.

  2. What a load of garbage. I saw this on BBC earlier, but I've come to expect such nonsense there.

  3. Garbage indeed. Evolution has never happened. It's a fairy tale religion. If you lose your arm in a car accident, will your child be born with only one arm?

  4. Reality is not always Progressive