Friday, 29 January 2016

missing-link or not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin

At first, I was a little sceptical about the claim and the mystery that the subject of the human race’s facial anatomy espouses, however, after reading the first few lines of this essay from The Atlantic, I began to really appreciate this puzzle.
Like those palaeontologists who are able to prestidigitate a complete dinosaur specimen out of a single length of bone, the subtle protrusion on our jaws that forms our chin has been pointing researchers in all sorts of different, wagging directions—and the question has been perplexing evolutionary biologists since the very beginnings. Not even our closest relatives—nor those branches of the family tree that withered away—possess the same sort of jaw-line (though some argue that elephants have a similar feature) and science, and not for a lack of speculation, chin scratching—has so far failed to deliver a plausible explanation. All the suggestions have been refuted—such a configuration would not have made it easier to chew or talk or act as an effective face-guard for cavemen fisticuffs. That last bit about duelling savages strikes me as particularly Victorian—like their unhealthy preoccupation with dinosaur husbandry and mating practises. What do you think? Chins couldn’t have become a dominate trait out of a need to stuff pillowcases or fold fitted-sheets, and the answer probably lies in a convergent constellation of factors that we’ve not yet untangled. It’s also funny how chins (as well with teeth for ducks) are one of those features we immediately anthropomorphise to the point where we’re blind to its absence.