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Kirby: Blame evolution for the way I look

By Robert Kirby

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Jun 09 2014 03:35 pm • Last Updated Jun 09 2014 10:50 pm

Two University of Utah researchers have discovered proof that I’m supposed to look the way I do. So do my friends. And probably you as well.

Check out the photo of an early human guy. It looks a little like Sonny, a lot like me, and is almost identical to Killer.

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David Carrier and Michael Morgan studied ancient skulls of hominins (like hobbits but way older) and found that their blunt features developed through violence.

According to a paper they wrote — which I haven’t read — I got the appearance I have thanks to a million years of my ancestors being punched in the face. Who knew our family problem went that far back?

This paper quoted Carrier saying, "Turns out when humans fight, the primary target is the face."

Correspondingly, human faces became more robust from being treated like an anvil. Our foreheads and the bones around our noses got thicker, and so did our jaws.

Not everyone agrees with Carrier and Morgan, including many Christians who don’t even believe in evolution.

Christian women say God created Adam, who instantly looked exactly like Brad Pitt wearing a few strategically placed leaves, a nice smile, and a soulful look.

Meanwhile, Christian men believe Eve looked like any stark naked female hominin.

But even other scientists don’t agree about early human beings as accomplished face breakers. For one thing, beer hadn’t been invented yet. Neither had sports, politics, or any other chest bumping behavior.

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Finally, I don’t agree entirely with the hammer face research either. I don’t have the level of education of Carrier and Morgan, but I am a guy.

Every guy knows that a handy secondary target prominently resides a lot lower on the anatomy, is immediately available, and hasn’t developed one single bit of natural protection in a billion years.

Why haven’t we learned to retract this target in potentially violent situations? A turtle can do it. Why can’t human males … close up shop, so to speak … when things get tense?

Never mind. Let’s stick to actual science, or the seeming lack thereof.

If the human head had evolved according to a millennia of target selection, the back of the male skull would be five inches thick and constructed of a naturally occurring titanium. And maybe with an eye in the middle of it.

It’s general knowledge that virtually everything the human male required in order to be domesticated he learned through the back of his head courtesy of the little woman.

I descended through several million other males, during which at some point they were trained to eat with cutlery, wipe their feet before coming inside, and not eat any of the children.

Being male, we were no doubt slow to domesticate. It probably took more than a couple million years to develop anything even remotely resembling manners.

Archaeologists have discovered that early brooms, rolling pins, and anything else handily swung by a weaker gender were made entirely of stone. The backs of our heads should be completely flat or even concave.

Fortunately, we’re all continuing to evolve. The human face is a lot less robust than it used to be. We no longer have a supraorbital brow like the bumper on a Ford. Our faces have been getting punched less and the rest of our bodies shot more.

As for male domestication, there may come a time when nature grows a reboot button on the back of our heads.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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