Study: Modern Human Face Shaped by Several Factors

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. considerably / kənˈsɪd ər ə bli / (adv) – to a great degree

    The human face has considerably changed since the prehistoric times.

  2. modification / ˌmɒd ə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən / (n) – a change or an adjustment

    She made some modifications to her face through plastic surgery.

  3. shrink / ʃrɪŋk / (v) – to get smaller

    I can no longer wear my dress. It shrank after I washed it in hot water.

  4. laborious / ləˈbɔr i əs / (adj) – requiring a lot of physical effort and time

    Many factory workers are tired after a laborious day.

  5. to an extent / tʊ ən ɪkˈstɛnt / (idiom) – in a way that is limited

    Exercising will help you lose weight to an extent.


Read the text below.

Several factors affected the way the human face has evolved over the years, a recent study revealed.

Thousands of years ago, early human species had large faces. But now, the modern human face has become considerably smaller with a flatter forehead, a smaller jaw, and more visible, mobile eyebrows. The researchers, who were from various universities, said that these modifications were a result of climate change, diet, and social communication.

The researchers explained that diet and climate change are already known to be associated with human face evolution. In prehistoric times, humans required massive jaws to chew hard food. However, the human face began to shrink after humans learned to cook, which reduced the need to chew. Living in different temperatures also reshaped the parts of the face that are involved in breathing.

Aside from diet and climate change, the need to express emotions through non-verbal communication also helped shape the human face. Over time, the human face has become slender and has developed eyebrows that are capable of movement. These changes made it easy to express a wide range of emotions, such as sympathy and recognition.

On another note, the researchers claim that the human face may still continue to evolve. Because humans live in industrialized societies, many activities are now less laborious. Modern processed food has also become widely available. According to lead researcher Paul O’Higgins, these lifestyle changes can make the human face shrink more. While the human face can change only to an extent, O’Higgins explained that evolution will continue as long as humans live in varying cultural, environmental, and social conditions.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, is it important to know why and how the human face has changed over time? Why or why not?
• Aside from becoming smaller, how else do you think the human face will change in the future? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What other parts of the body do you think will change over time? Explain.
• What other factors can affect the physical appearance of a person (e.g. genes, environment)? Explain.