Eyebrows are, well, eyebrows. Some of us spend a ton of time perfecting them (waxing, threading, brow pencil, i.e. the whole shebang) and some of us never give them a second thought. But most of us have probably never asked ourselves why we have eyebrows in the first place. However, a new study from the Journal of Nature, Ecology and Evolution answers just that: Namely, humans have eyebrows to help us better communicate.
The study says that our ancestors had large, furrowed brows, but over time early humans evolved to have smaller foreheads and highly mobile eyebrows. Scientists suggest that eyebrows made way for the kind of communication that could form stronger and larger social networks, because mobile eyebrows can express an array of subtle emotions, like sympathy and recognition.
The researchers behind the study used 3-D engineering software to study the brow ridge of a fossilized skull from an archaic species of hominin (early human ancestors). Prior theories had led scientists to believe that eyebrows were to fill space between the eye sockets and flat brains of early humans. Other theories included the idea that the eyebrow ridge was a way to stabilize skulls from the force of chewing.
Scientists also conclude that mobile eyebrows played a unique role in human survival. Early humans’ ability to communicate and form social networks allowed them to outlast other species. So the next time you’re buying an eyebrow pencil to enhance your brows, you can consider it an essential purchase. Thanks, science.