12 Things You Didn't Know About Your Own Face
You'd think by the time you reach your 20s or so, you'd know everything you need to know about your face. You have a pretty good idea how it all works and how to take care of it, right? But let's face facts about face facts: there are plenty of things you don't know!
Human face biology and anatomy, just like the rest of our weirdo parts, are fascinating and insanely complex. Scientists and evolutionary biologists are discovering new things all the time (the creepiest fact on this list, for example, wasn't well-known until 2015). Pinch your cheeks, count your eyelashes, and prepare to learn a bunch of cool new facts about human faces.
Your Dominant Nostril Switches Every Few Hours
Everyone has a dominant hand, save for those superhuman ambidextrous folks that think they're better than the rest of us. But did you know that everyone also has a dominant nostril? It's true... at least temporarily. Your dominant nostril – the one with the most airflow – switches throughout the day, and it affects what you smell. Researchers say the different rates of flow between the dominant and non-dominant nostril may help the brain to separate and appreciate complex scents.
Science Says Resting B*tch Face Is SexistPhoto: Roo Reynolds / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
If you've been accused of having so-called "Resting B*tch Face," know this – there's nothing unusual about your face, and men have them, too. Researchers at Noldus Information Technology used a piece of software called FaceReader in February 2016 to plot out exactly what RBF looks like and discovered that – shocking! – a ton of men have it, too. Conclusion? It has "little to do with facial physiology and more to do with social norms." Why is it considered a lady thing? Because "women have more pressure on them to be happy and smiley and to get along with others.” In other words, rest easy, RBFs!
Arachnids Live On Your FacePhoto: Blauerauerhahn / via Wikimedia / CC BY SA 3.0
At least two species of microscopic arachnid mites live on your face. Still here? Good. Everyone has them, and they're here to stay. This isn't a new development: they've been with us since early humans walked out of Africa and started exploring the globe. Don't worry; they won't cause you harm, unless you somehow don't have enough of them, which can cause skin ailments such as rosacea. Weirdly, all mammals have these face mites, except – you guessed it – the platypus and its kooky egg-laying relatives. Platypuses always have to be different, huh?
You Have Twice As Many Upper Eyelashes As Lower
If you don't spend hours staring at your own eyelashes then you may not know this one: you have twice as many upper eyelashes as lower. On average, most people have 200 upper and 100 lower. The number is constantly changing because about five will fall out each day and not return for another four-to-eight weeks.
You Have a Little Hyoid Bone Right Under Your TonguePhoto: Hellerhoff / via Wikimedia / CC BY SA 3.0
Also known by the much naughtier name "tongue bone," the hyoid bone gets the distinction of being the only bone in the throat and the only bone in the body that doesn't connect directly with any other bone. It's the loneliest bone we have. If you were unaware of its presence, looking at x-rays just might make you gag – it looks like something stuck in your throat. Why do we even have it? It works as an anchor for our tongues, keeping the back in place while the rest of it is off doing God-knows-what.
Cheek Pinching May Be A Way To Balance Our Emotions
If you have a pinchably cute face, aunts and uncles have probably pinched your cheeks more than a few times, right? Cute babies get it all the time, but ask any adorable adult with a living grandmother: those cheeks are still getting pinched. Why? Yale psychologist Oriana Aragon has a guess: the impulse to pinch a cute cheek could help humans achieve "emotional homeostasis." In other words, we respond to overwhelmingly positive feelings with minor negative reactions. It's sort of like crying "tears of joy." By pinching – a mildly painful and "negative" act – we balance out the positive and get closer to the "emotional equilibrium" the body craves.