don’t burn your eyebrows off -- 1/11/23

Today's selection -- from Eureka! introduced by Jim Al-Khalili. What evolutionary purpose have eyebrows served?:
"Eyebrows serve a functional purpose in keeping rain or sweat from your forehead out of your eyes. But perhaps more importantly, we use our exceptionally mobile eyebrows to communicate our emotions.

Audrey Hepburn and her trademark thick eyebrows. 

"The position of the eyebrows emphasizes expressions on the human face thus giving others an accurate picture of the individual's mood. This gives a good indication of whether a person is friendly or whether they might be dangerous to approach. Perhaps most important is the 'eyebrow flash', a rapid up-and-down flick of the eyebrows that conveys recognition and approval. The ability to telegraph friendly intentions from a safe distance would have had obvious survival value for our ancestors. Eyebrow signalling of various kinds is widespread among primates, although only in humans are the eyebrows highlighted by setting them against bare skin. 

"Smiles come in many forms, from expressions of merriment or contentment to leers, smirks and even anger. The position of the brow, emphasised by the eyebrows, is what gives us a visual cue to what an individual is really feeling."



Eureka!: Mindblowing Science Every Day of the Year


John Murray Press


Copyright© New Scientist 2021


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