Saturday, January 14, 2012

Facial color patterns in primates

Monkeys - excellent.
Facial hair - amusing
Monkeys with facial hair and strangely colored faces - priceless.

An entertaining paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society this week - Adaptive evolution of facial colour patterns in Neotropical primates.

It reaches the somewhat surprising conclusion that species that live in larger groups have less complex facial patterns that those that live more solitary lives.

The author's explain in a ScienceDaily report:

The researchers' finding that faces are more simple in larger groups came as a surprise.
"Initially, we thought it might be the opposite," Santana said. "You might expect that in larger groups, faces would vary more and have more complex parts that would allow one individual to identify any member of that group. That is not what we found. Species that live in larger groups live in closer proximity to one another and tend to use facial expressions more than species in smaller groups that are more spread out. Being in closer proximity puts a stronger pressure on using facial expressions."
"This finding suggests that facial expressions are increasingly important in large groups," said co-author Jessica Lynch Alfaro, associate director of the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. "If you're highly social, then facial expressions matter more than having a highly complex pattern on your face."

No comments: