Cold adaptation and the human face



A framework is suggested within which the evolutionary biology of the human head and face can be explored; it includes several channels of natural and behavioral selection as well as modes of “plasticity” change.

One aspect of the model is then examined by means of physiological and anthropometric experimentation. A cold room study of 33 Japanese and 25 whites, all born and raised in the tropics, was conducted at Hawaii's Pacific Biomedical Research Center. Thermal response during 70 minutes of exposure (face and hand) to moving 0°C air was electrically recorded. Assuming skin and body temperature is partially dependent upon morphology, detailed anthropometric measurements were taken and employed in thermal-morphological correlation analysis.

Though results are not yet thoroughly analyzed, it appears that head surface temperatures relate to sub-cutaneous fat thickness, but not clearly to other form factors; the oriental face, supposedly a product of selection by cold, seems to respond little differently than any other.