chimpanzee vs. human expressions, part II

comparative anatomy - chimpanzee and humans

Chimpanzee Brow Ridge & Beyond, Part II

comparative chimpanzee and human facial anatomy and facial landmarks

As mentioned in Part I, chimpanzees and humans have many things in common when it comes to facial expressions and facial structure; however, we also have many significant differences!

Below is a series of imagery focusing on an action affected by the prominent brow ridge seen in chimpanzees:

  • brow raiser – a frontalis action

Frontalis Muscle & Scalp Interaction

When we raise our eyebrows, our hairline also tends to lower. As you can see in the video above, this hairline drag does not just occur in humans!

The primary brow elevator for humans and chimpanzees is the frontalis. In both species, frontalis originates near the eyebrows and inserts upwards onto a tendinous sheet (galea aponeurotica) along the scalp. Because frontalis has no bony attachments, it has no stable anchor points when it exerts force onto the eyebrows. This lack of tethering puts strain on the scalp during frontalis contractions, causing the skin above the frontalis to drag downward as a secondary effect. 

The degree to which the hairline is dragged downward varies from person to person and chimpanzee to chimpanzee. Humans and chimpanzees have individual differences in muscle strength and facial structure. There is also an important interplay between frontalis and occipitalis that influences the degree or hairline drag. Learn more about frontalis and occipitalis relationships and interactions in “Forehead Dynamics.”