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Genes for Faces
09 April 2014

Genes for Faces

Faces are fascinating. From the earliest days of our lives we recognise the faces of the people around us, and the world is full of unique and beautiful (or not so beautiful) looks. Our faces display our emotions, and reveal details about our age, sex, health and origins. But very little is known about how the shape of each person's face is controlled. The answer lies within our genes, according to researchers that have analysed the facial features and DNA of nearly 600 people from the US, Brazil, and the Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They've found key genetic 'landmarks' corresponding to particular features, which could one day allow scientists to recreate faces from DNA samples. While there's still more work to be done, the potential for this technology is huge, from solving crimes to recreating the faces of our long-dead ancestors or even extinct human-like species.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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