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Faces are weird. They really are largely accidents of development — all the fine features that we consider lovely sculpted signifiers of beauty are really just products of developmental processes, and what we recognize as pretty is actually just a good job of assembly. Here’s what your face looked like, once upon a time.

Drawings of the developing human head and face between the 4th and 5th week (adapted from Nelson, 1953). The top row are side views, and the bottom row are face views of the same stages. The face develops from extensions and fusions of the pharyngeal arches, structures which are found in all other vertebrates, and which are modified in different ways in different species. Abbreviations: m, maxillary process (upper jaw); j, lower jaw; h, hyoid; n, nasal pit.

Embryonically, much of your face was constructed from these plastic bars of tissue called pharyngeal arches, which extend to meet at the midline and then fuse and shift in complicated ways to form the familiar face we see in the mirror. The characteristics of facial development are also relics of our fishy ancestors.

[Via Pharyngula]