Research press release


Nature Communications

Evolution: Faces in a crowd



今回、Michael SheehanとMichael Nachmanは、顔の特徴と体形質の測定指標を用いて、顔が、一般に、手などその他の特徴よりも形状とレイアウトの多様性がはるかに高いことを明らかにした。今回の研究では、アフリカ系とヨーロッパ系の人々の大型の遺伝子データセットの解析も行われ、顔の特徴に関連するゲノム領域の多様性が高いことを示す証拠が得られた。この新知見は、顔の形質の多様性の高さを維持するために選択圧が働いていることを示唆しており、顔の個性のための進化的選択を示している。


Evolution of individuality among human faces arose to avoid cases of mistaken identity in complex social groups, suggests a new study in Nature Communications.

Humans have a remarkable ability to distinguish between different individuals within a large social group. This is partly due to the diversity in facial features between individuals, which is typically much more variable than in other species that live in large groups.

Michael Sheehan and Michael Nachman use measurements of facial features and body traits to show that faces are typically far more variable in shape and layout, when compared to other features, such as hands. They also analyse a large genetic dataset of people of African and European descent and find evidence of increased variation in regions of the genome associated with facial characteristics. This finding suggests that selective pressures are operating to maintain high levels of diversity in this trait, implying evolutionary selection for facial individuality.

Similarities in these specific regions of the genome, when compared to sequences from Neanderthals, also suggest that this variation may even predate the origin of modern humans.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms5800


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