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Male hominin face evolved to take punches (free pdf)

From: Ben Creisler

A new paper that may be of interest. The pdf is open access.

News story:



David R. Carrier and Michael H. Morgan (2014)
Protective buttressing of the hominin face.
Biological Reviews (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1111/brv.12112

When humans fight hand-to-hand the face is usually the primary target
and the bones that suffer the highest rates of fracture are the parts
of the skull that exhibit the greatest increase in robusticity during
the evolution of basal hominins. These bones are also the most
sexually dimorphic parts of the skull in both australopiths and
humans. In this review, we suggest that many of the facial features
that characterize early hominins evolved to protect the face from
injury during fighting with fists. Specifically, the trend towards a
more orthognathic face; the bunodont form and expansion of the
postcanine teeth; the increased robusticity of the orbit; the
increased robusticity of the masticatory system, including the
mandibular corpus and condyle, zygoma, and anterior pillars of the
maxilla; and the enlarged jaw adductor musculature are traits that may
represent protective buttressing of the face. If the protective
buttressing hypothesis is correct, the primary differences in the face
of robust versus gracile australopiths may be more a function of
differences in mating system than differences in diet as is generally
assumed. In this scenario, the evolution of reduced facial robusticity
in Homo is associated with the evolution of reduced strength of the
upper body and, therefore, with reduced striking power. The protective
buttressing hypothesis provides a functional explanation for the
puzzling observation that although humans do not fight by biting our
species exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism in the strength and
power of the jaw and neck musculature. The protective buttressing
hypothesis is also consistent with observations that modern humans can
accurately assess a male's strength and fighting ability from facial
shape and voice quality.