The evolution and adaptation of the human face are the result of adaptations that make the human face more resilient to being hit by another human’s fist. This record of adaptation includes the earliest of human ancestors. University of Utah biologist David Carrier and Michael H. Morgan, a University of Utah physician, are the first to propose that human violence was a major factor in human facial structure development. The research was published in the June 9, 2014, edition of the journal Biological Reviews.
The new research opposes the commonly held view that human faces adapted a robust jaw, cheek bone, and forehead as an adaptation to managing to eat different types of food. The researchers contend that facial developments in australopith ancestors of man were an adaptation to repeated violent encounters with other early humans. Australopiths are early human ancestors of the genus Australopithecus. The earliest known evidence of Australopithecus has been found in Africa and dates to 3.6 million years ago.
The researchers also note that human hands evolved their present structure as an adaptation that served our earliest ancestors as an advantage in fighting each other. The main target in a hand-to-hand fight is the head. The bones that could suffer the greatest damage from an assault showed the greatest increase in strength over the ages that human ancestors have fought each other. The changes in face structure were more prominent in males than females and occurred at the same time that human ancestors developed the ability to make a fist.
Many scientists and academics have accepted an idealized almost Eden-like existence in early humans. Many philosophers have promoted the idea that violence in humans is a result of the development of modern society. The new study indicates that faces and hands adapted to violence eons before modern societies developed.