Cover image for Making faces : the evolutionary origins of the human face / Adam S. Wilkins ; illustrated by Sarah Kennedy.
Making faces : the evolutionary origins of the human face / Adam S. Wilkins ; illustrated by Sarah Kennedy.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Massachusetts : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017.

Physical Description:
xi, 451 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Thinking about the human face as a product of evolution -- How the face develops: from early embryo to older teenager -- The genetic foundations of the face -- The genetic basis of facial diversity -- History of the face. I, From earliest vertebrates to first primates -- History of the face. II, From early primates to modern humans -- Brain and face coevolution: recognizing, reading and making faces -- "Postspeciation": the evolving face in modern humans -- On face consciousness and the future of the human face -- Social selection in the shaping of the human face -- Coda: Three journeys.
This book sets out to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the human face, in terms of both the fossil evidence and the recent findings of genetics, molecular biology, and developmental biology that have illuminated how the human face forms during embryonic and fetal development. In exploring this history, we will see how intimately the evolution of the face was connected to that of the brain and how mental and social processes have helped shape the human face; intriguingly, those processes have continued well into the recent history of our species. Along the way, we will take note of the remarkable diversity of human faces and examine the genetic foundations of that diversity, findings relevant to understanding the (probable) evolutionary future of the face. The final chapter sums up the key features of the history of the face, and explores how that history illuminates human evolution specifically and exemplifies the evolutionary process in general.-- Provided by publisher.


Library Branch
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
1 Bob Harkins Branch 599.938 WIL Book Adult General Collection

On Order



Humans possess the most expressive faces in the animal kingdom. Adam Wilkins presents evidence ranging from the fossil record to recent findings of genetics, molecular biology, and developmental biology to reconstruct the fascinating story of how the human face evolved. Beginning with the first vertebrate faces half a billion years ago and continuing to dramatic changes among our recent human ancestors, Making Faces illuminates how the unusual characteristics of the human face came about-both the physical shape of facial features and the critical role facial expression plays in human society.

Offering more than an account of morphological changes over time and space, which rely on findings from paleontology and anthropology, Wilkins also draws on comparative studies of living nonhuman species. He examines the genetic foundations of the remarkable diversity in human faces, and also shows how the evolution of the face was intimately connected to the evolution of the brain. Brain structures capable of recognizing different individuals as well as "reading" and reacting to their facial expressions led to complex social exchanges. Furthermore, the neural and muscular mechanisms that created facial expressions also allowed the development of speech, which is unique to humans.

In demonstrating how the physical evolution of the human face has been inextricably intertwined with our species' growing social complexity, Wilkins argues that it was both the product and enabler of human sociality.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Thinking about the Human Face as a Product of Evolutionp. 1
2 How the Face Develops: From Early Embryo to Older Teenagerp. 32
3 The Genetic Foundations of the Facep. 65
4 The Genetic Basis of Facial Diversityp. 98
5 History of the Face I: From Earliest Vertebrates to the First Primatesp. 123
6 History of the Face II: From Early Primates to Modern Humansp. 171
7 Brain and Face Coevolution: Recognizing, Reading, and Making Facesp. 212
8 "Postspeciation": The Evolving Face in Modern Humansp. 264
9 On Face Consciousness and the Future of the Facep. 307
10 Social Selection in the Shaping of the Human Facep. 337
Coda: Three Journeysp. 370
Notesp. 375
Acronymsp. 399
Glossaryp. 401
Bibliographyp. 421
Acknowledgmentsp. 441
Indexp. 445

Google Preview