Your Face Was Made For Punching


Felipe Orucuta takes a punch. Juan Mabromata/ AFP/Getty Images

In 2012 we learned that human fists are highly-evolved punching instruments. It's two years later and the same researcher is back to let us know our faces evolved for fisticuffs as well.

Specifically, our skulls evolved to soak up punches. Makes sense, right?

In a new study published in Biological Reviews, University of Utah biologist David Carrier and physician Michael H. Morgan argue that human faces evolved to minimize injury from punches to the face during fights between males. That's where we tend to punch people and we've been doing it for quite some time.

And so, when we look back 4-5 million years at our australopith ancestors, we find an increased robustness in the particular facial bones most likely to suffer fracture during a pummeling. These areas are also were we find the greatest differences between male and female facial structure -- both in australopiths and humans -- because, again, the structures may have evolved in response to male-on-male violence.

We're a savage species, pummeling our way up the evolutionary ladder and into the stars.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.