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posted by janrinok on Monday April 09, @10:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the thank-you-Spock dept.

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

Having movable eyebrows – and evolving beyond the Neanderthal ridge – may have played a crucial role in early human survival.

Eyebrows, we all have them, but what are they actually for? While eyebrows help to prevent debris, sweat, and water from falling into the eye socket, they serve another important function too – and it's all to do with how they move and human connection.

[...] But our latest research may have found an answer to explain why archaic humans had such a pronounced wedge of bone over their eyes (and why modern humans don't). And it seems to be down to the fact that our highly movable eyebrows can be used to express a wide range of subtle emotions – which could have played a crucial role in human survival.

Research has already shown that humans today unconsciously raise their eyebrows briefly when they see someone at a distance to show we are not a threat. And we also lift our eyebrows to show sympathy with others – a tendency noticed by Darwin in the 19th century.

[...] The brow ridges in archaic humans also serve no obvious function in relation to chewing or other practical mechanics – a theory commonly put forward to explain protruding brow ridges. As when the ridge was taken away there was no effect on the rest of the face when biting. This means that brow ridges in archaic humans must have had a social function – most likely used to display social dominance as is seen in other primates.

For our species losing the brow ridge probably meant looking less intimidating, but by developing flatter and more vertical foreheads our species could do something very unusual – move our eyebrows in all kinds of subtle and important ways.

Although the loss of the brow ridge may have initially been driven by changes in our brain or facial reduction, it subsequently allowed our eyebrows to make many different subtle and friendly gestures to people around us.

Source: https://theconversation.com/the-evolutionary-advantage-of-having-eyebrows-94599


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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday April 09, @10:54PM (9 children)

    by c0lo (156) on Monday April 09, @10:54PM (#664728)

    The brow ridges in archaic humans also serve no obvious function in relation to chewing or other practical mechanics – a theory commonly put forward to explain protruding brow ridges. As when the ridge was taken away there was no effect on the rest of the face when biting. This means that brow ridges in archaic humans must have had a social function – most likely used to display social dominance as is seen in other primates.

    Because there are only two explanations possible for the usefulness of eyebrow: chewing or expressing sympathy by raising them.

    In related news, green M&Ms cause acnee.

    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday April 09, @11:09PM (4 children)

      Hands are far better at making gestures across the entire ranges of subtlety and friendliness. 🖕

      --
      "Buzzy, you're probably the dumbest person I've ever encountered. Well, there is aristarchus, so make it 2nd dumbest."
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, @11:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, @11:19PM (#664737)

        When one has the hands full (fondling those titties) though, one will need some extra channels of non-verbal communication.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by edIII on Tuesday April 10, @01:32AM (2 children)

        by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 10, @01:32AM (#664765)

        Found the Italian :)

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Reziac on Tuesday April 10, @03:25AM (3 children)

      by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday April 10, @03:25AM (#664805) Homepage

      Someone lately showed that that the brow ridges are still there, just disguised by our flattened faces. Slope the forehead back like an animal, and the brow ridges reappear. In short, they're just a topological artifact.

      Also, they seem to have failed to note that a lot of other mammals have eyebrows, just not as prominently set off by naked skin. Or more likely in the case of primitive man, completely concealed by unkempt hair.

      Minirant: I'm getting quite tired of these research pronouncements that some very minor study has found THE REASON for some mystery trait that in all likelihood is just an artifact with no particular function. It's like Digging the Weans come to life.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by c0lo on Tuesday April 10, @03:58AM (2 children)

        by c0lo (156) on Tuesday April 10, @03:58AM (#664820)

        Minirant: I'm getting quite tired of these research pronouncements that some very minor study has found THE REASON for some mystery trait

        Publish-or-perish metric used as a perverted incentive.
        Even better if the explanation is dodgy, as this provides the opportunity to write other papers correcting the first.

        Strange things happen when one started to trust metrics with their life. Like write myself a new minivan [dilbert.com] or Cobra effect [wikipedia.org].
        Or even No child left behind.

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by shrewdsheep on Tuesday April 10, @08:10AM (1 child)

          by shrewdsheep (5215) on Tuesday April 10, @08:10AM (#664860)

          Publish-or-perish metric + journalistic exaggeration

          FTFY. Scientific papers are mainly *not* about science. That is a misunderstanding also held here on SN. First of all, they are progress report of scientists showing they are productive in some way. Only as a second purpose they are about science. We live in an industrialized scientific world. Most thinkable/obvious experiments are actually performed (often several times) due to lack of creativity of the individual scientist and the pressure to document activity. OTOH this leads to predictable progress overall which is only deniable by the truely ignorant. Admittedly, the signal-to-noise ratio is very low indeed.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday April 10, @08:30AM

            by c0lo (156) on Tuesday April 10, @08:30AM (#664862)

            Sudden access of pedantry

            OTOH this leads to predictable slow and inefficient progress overall due to a very low signal-to-noise ratio; but the progress does exist, is only denied by the truely ignorant

            ---

            + journalistic exaggeration

            I'll give you that, this does play a role. As more often than not, I was too lazy to check the original paper.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by bob_super on Monday April 09, @10:56PM (3 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Monday April 09, @10:56PM (#664730)

    Eyebrows protect the eyes after we headbutt opponents.
    Our hands are pretty fragile, and breaking fingers would mean death to early humans. Headbutting opponents and prey with our heavy strong skulls is a safer takedown approach, as well as potentially a courtship ritual (but without horns). Whoever has protective padding, against being poked or bled into the eyes, has a higher chance to survive and mate.

    Prove me wrong.

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday April 10, @12:43AM

      by mhajicek (51) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 10, @12:43AM (#664758)

      They also protect the skull and contents from fists, elbows, sticks, rocks, and other impact devices.

    • (Score: 2) by turgid on Tuesday April 10, @07:27AM

      by turgid (4318) on Tuesday April 10, @07:27AM (#664853) Journal

      Are you Glaswegian, by any chance?

      --
      Don't let Righty keep you down. #freearistarchus!!!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, @06:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, @06:43PM (#665059)

      Our finger lengths are carefully calibrated to meet two metrics:
      1) our fingers can be brought, simultaneously, to meet the thumb
      2) they can form a fist with, essentially, no air pocket

      That is, our hands were designed for holding things, and punching.
      Also, apparently, after developing an upright gait, we developed thicker skulls. This seems to be in response to the increase in punching.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, @11:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, @11:04PM (#664733)

    free the unibrow [duckduckgo.com]!

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Uncle_Al on Monday April 09, @11:13PM (1 child)

    by Uncle_Al (1108) on Monday April 09, @11:13PM (#664736)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, @02:03AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, @02:03AM (#664774)

      Indeed.

      from the thank-you-Spock dept.

      Ninja'd by the editors!

  • (Score: 0, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, @12:40AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, @12:40AM (#664756)

    The aboriginal people of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and other near-by places have the huge brow ridges.

    I wonder how they do in fights. I wonder if they get useful protection from sun damage to the eyes.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by PartTimeZombie on Tuesday April 10, @02:39AM (3 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Tuesday April 10, @02:39AM (#664787)

      The aboriginal people of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and other near-by places have the huge brow ridges

      No they don't.

      Or, rather those are three completely different peoples. Maori are Polynesians and don't share any particular physical features with the other two groups (apart from the obvious, you know, being people).

      Australian Aboriginals might have colonised the place 50,000 years ago. They don't share much with the Papua New Guineans either.

      I suspect you've never met any of those people.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by c0lo on Tuesday April 10, @02:44AM (2 children)

        by c0lo (156) on Tuesday April 10, @02:44AM (#664788)

        Australian Aboriginals might have colonised the place 50,000 years ago.
        ...I suspect you've never met any of those people.

        I would have loved to meet one of those original Aborigines, be it only for being able to say today "Take this, aristarchus".

        (grin)

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Tuesday April 10, @06:29AM (1 child)

          by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 10, @06:29AM (#664845) Journal

          But where would I take them? To the Billabong teeming with Bandicoots? Or to where the Green Ants Dream? Your comment puzzles me, c0lo. Waltzing Matilda, indeed!

          --
          #Free{nick}_NOW!!!
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Tuesday April 10, @06:55AM

            by c0lo (156) on Tuesday April 10, @06:55AM (#664850)

            But where would I take them?

            The correct question is: where will they take you?
            And the answer is: to dream the Rainbow Serpent, younster, of course.
            Then to have a Vegemite sandwich with a head full of zombie and watch Kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree (no beer for you until you grow up, chundering with a total lack of style is tasteless).

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by jelizondo on Tuesday April 10, @01:06AM

    by jelizondo (653) on Tuesday April 10, @01:06AM (#664760)

    humans today unconsciously raise their eyebrows briefly when they see someone at a distance to show we are not a threat

    Well, not quite so. I furrow my brows to make sure anyone, at any distance, perceives that interrupting me with their stupid comments, questions or requests will likely damage their health. Permanently. 😠

  • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by aristarchus on Tuesday April 10, @06:30AM

    by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 10, @06:30AM (#664846) Journal

    We could have had an aristarchus submission!! (One eyebrow raised, this time in accusation!!)

    --
    #Free{nick}_NOW!!!
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