What’s in a face? The amazing variety of human faces — far greater than that of most other animals — is the result of evolutionary pressure to make each of us unique and easily recognizable, according to a new study out of UC Berkeley.
Behavioral ecologist Michael J. Sheehan explains that our highly visual social interactions are almost certainly the driver of this evolutionary trend. Many animals use smell or vocalization to identify individuals, making distinctive facial features unimportant, especially for animals that roam after dark, he said. But humans are different.
In the study, Sheehan and coauthor Michael Nachman asked, “Are traits such as distance between the eyes or width of the nose variable just by chance, or has there been evolutionary selection to be more variable than they would be otherwise; more distinctive and more unique?”
As predicted, the researchers found that facial traits are much more variable than other bodily traits, such as the length of the hand, and that facial traits are independent of other facial traits, unlike most body measures. People with longer arms, for example, typically have longer legs, while people with wider noses or widely spaced eyes don’t have longer noses. Both findings suggest that facial variation has been enhanced through evolution.
“Genetic variation tends to be weeded out by natural selection in the case of traits that are essential to survival,” Nachman said. “Here it is the opposite; selection is maintaining variation. All of this is consistent with the idea that there has been selection for variation to facilitate recognition of individuals.”
Kristin Muhlner is the CEO of NewBrand Analytics, which helps companies monitor social media chatter about them. She also has mastered the art of saying no, resolutely refusing to become overextended in all corners of her life. Fast Company caught up with Muhlner to learn how to wiggle out of networking, email, and even—gasp!—charitable work.
"I would much rather be in a business with an asshole that I love and trust, than an asshole who’s going to fuck me."
It’s that sort of extreme honesty that has helped super-close friends Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman succeed in the brutal restaurant industry with their New York City-based Meatball Shop. But it hasn’t always been easy, as that Chernow quip implies. First they had to land on the right idea (drunk people love meatballs!). Then they had to survive the always-tough opening run (they did and inspired a CBS sitcom in the process!). Then they had to survive each other. That’s where things get interesting.
Here’s a fun exercise. By combining niceties like Internet data speed, the cost of housing and food, and local weather conditions, NomadList has tallied up a list of the best places on Earth from which to work remotely. The top 10?
We took the Cadillac ELR out for a spin in Manhattan with Pam Fletcher, the executive chief engineer at GM for electric vehicles. The ELR has a 5.5’ battery in the chassis and a small gasoline engine up front. It also can be plugged in, making it a true plug-in hybrid.
"The ELR is the ultimate design statement: a luxury coupe, that, oh by the way, happens to be an electric car,” says Fletcher. With a nine-gallon tank and a total range of 380 miles, 37 of which are electric, the ELR is certainly eco-friendly. But is the price tag justified? Fast Company's Chris Dannen finds out.
In this episode of Brand Evolution, we look at the evolution of one of America’s cornerstone brands, Coca-Cola. From its origins in an Atlanta pharmacy through the creation of the iconic bottle and the development of its classic advertising, we look at the pivotal moments in the history of one of the world’s most instantly recognizable, and valuable, brands.
It’s no secret that we often associate certain smells with specific feelings and experiences. When you smell a rich perfume you might think of luxury, and when you sniff a coworker’s divine lunch you may be reminded of your own hunger.
But is it possible for certain smells to inspire productivity?