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Why Do People Have Eyebrows?

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Do you have eyebrows? Almost certainly. But do you know why you have them? It turns out there is more than one possible explanation and this lesson goes over three major possibilities.

Changing Your Identity

Have you ever wanted to stay incognito? Or perhaps you wanted to change your identity. What did you do in these scenarios? Maybe you wore a different hat. Perhaps you wore differently colored contact lenses. Maybe you just wore shades to hide your eyes. Turns out, those are all puny ways to try and change your identity. If you wanted to make yourself unrecognizable, you'd shave your eyebrows off.

Not convinced? Well, read on to find out the various reasons people have eyebrows to understand why.

Communication & Expressions

A long time ago, our ancestors were some really hairy creatures. They had long hair on just about all of their body. Over millions of years of evolution, something peculiar happened. We kept hair on a few parts of our body but disposed of almost all of it elsewhere. Well, exceptions do apply. There are some very hairy men around to this day. Good old Burt Reynolds comes to mind. But beyond that, most people are generally hairless compared to our ancestors. However, even the very hairless of us still have eyebrows, technically called supercilia. Why did evolution keep them around?

One possible explanation is that they allow for us to communicate better with one another. We can better see that someone is angry, amused, or curious with eyebrows. People don't even need to say anything. It's a form of non-verbal communication, really. Even if you can't hear someone's voice or see a person's face from the eyes down, you can still recognize some emotions. For instance, one eyebrow raised above the other may indicate the person is confused or curious.

Survival

Another possible explanation for the reason as to why our eyebrows stuck around has to do with survival. It seems that eyebrows help to redirect liquid substances like rain and sweat away from our eyes. If you're running away from a predator and sweating really hard as a result, it's imperative your eyesight remains nice and clear. If sweat was dripping into your eyes, that would make your vision murky. Thus, the arch-like shape and hairs of your eyebrows might help direct the sweat on your forehead to drip off the side of your face instead of into your eyes. The same scenario goes for vertical rain. The eyebrows help to redirect this rain away from your eyes.

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