How ancient humans ‘self-domesticated’ their own faces to appear more friendly

close up african female face with kind eyes
Image: katemangostar/Freepik

One hypothesis for how humans transitioned from developing a robust Neandertal visage in maturity to retaining finer features throughout life is that we “self-domesticated” our face. This idea suggests that as humans increasingly relied on peaceable social interactions to flourish, our ancestors began selecting mates with less aggressive features for facial appearance and other traits. But genetic evidence linking facial characteristics to this self-domestication process has been scant.

new study published on December 4 in Science Advances provides a missing link. The results show that DNA changes underlying facial development differ distinctly between today’s humans and our closest extinct relatives, the Neandertals and Denisovans—another ancient branch of the human family tree.

Related article:  Podcast: Pesticides prevent cancer. Growing drugs in GMO plants; battling diabetes with CRISPR

These differences would be expected if modern humans are a self-domesticated species, says Richard Wrangham, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, who was not involved in the work. Previous studies circled around genes potentially linked to domestication in humans, he says, but the “critical advance” of the new paper is that it takes one important gene candidate and ties it to a predicted result of domestication: finer facial features.

Read full, original post: Missing Link Found for How Modern Humans Evolved Friendly Faces

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend