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J Oral Biosci. 2019 Dec;61(4):195-200. doi: 10.1016/j.job.2019.08.001. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

How the diversity of the faces arises.

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Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA. Electronic address:
Division in Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Department of Oral Biology, Oral Science Research Center, BK21 PLUS Project, Yonsei University College of Dentistry, Seoul, Korea. Electronic address:



The evolution of the face is crucial for each species to adapt to different diets, environments, and in some species, to promote social interaction. The diversity in the shapes of the face results from divergence in the process of facial development that begins during early embryonic development.


Here we review the recent advancements in the understanding of the genetic, epigenetic, molecular, and cellular basis of facial diversity. We also review the robustness of facial development and how it relates to the evolution of the face. Finally, we discuss the current challenges in achieving a deeper understanding of facial diversity.


We have gained much knowledge with respect to cis-regulatory elements, gene expression, cellular behavior, and the physical forces in facial development in the past two decades. Significant interdisciplinary work is needed to integrate these varied pieces of information into a complete picture of how the diversity of faces arises.


Evolution; Facial development; Robustness; cis-regulatory elements


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