Why do individual humans have such unique faces while animals have faces that are all similar? Is this purely perception? Are we actually just as similar looking to each other as the animals are?

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Why do individual humans have such unique faces while animals have faces that are all similar? Is this purely perception? Are we actually just as similar looking to each other as the animals are?

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Not all animals use facial identification. An ant uses pheromones. A dog sniffs the anal glands of other dogs, which contains a unique scent. Whales have unique names that they use when singing. Birds have unique calls, etc.

What he said, plus… human brains are very specialized in picking out other human faces.

Which is why even very advanced androids (robotics that look like people) look “off”.

We have a very keen sense for the differences and similarities in human faces. Less so in animals.

Animals do look different, too, we just don’t spent enough time observing them to notice the differences, and we’re just less attuned to differences of different species. But if you were a farmer or zookeeper and regularly interacted with a group of animals you’d learn the differences in their faces.

Combination of us making great use of our face for communication and identifiation and our brain being specialized in picking them out. Also I read at some point that it is more difficult spotting differences in “foreign” faces but one does get better when spending more time with said people.

It is just perception.

This is why people sometimes say that all <insert race> look the same. We are better able to distinguish the features of individuals that we are surrounded by. Caucasians will have different colors of hair and eyes and focus on that. African Americans mostly have dark hair and eyes but a lot of different shades of skin and facial features.

There have been studies where people were shown different African American faces. Those who grew up in places with a higher African American population (and those who watched a lot of NBA basketball) were better able to distinguish individuals.

Animals don’t as much go by face but often have other identifiers (spots/stripes/smells) that help them to distinguish individuals and for them it as just as easy to tell Joe apart from Bob.

You know the old (racist) trope of “You all look alike”?

Well, it’s partially true due to the way the human brain works.

Looking at animals or people is a lot like reading. When reading, you first look at letters. Then you start sounding out words. Eventually, you can see the word as a single unit and focus on other stuff like the sentence and then the meaning behind it.

When you are around the people you grew up with, you learn to see all the various distinguishing details. It’s a sight word for you. You get it instantly and can go looking for the sentence and deeper meaning. You can see the details and pick out individuals.

When you are looking at people or animals that you are NOT used to being around, your brain gets stuck on sounding out the word. It goes “BIG CATEGORY” and kinda gets stopped there.

I grew up in a lily-white town in the midwest. I managed to be around enough black people over my life to get over the recognition issues with them. But now at the age of 51 I find myself teaching in an elementary school where over 30% of the students speak English as a second language, and Spanish as their first. And I am having notably more problems learning the names of the Latino children than the white or black children.

Which bugs me and makes me feel like a schmuck.

So I am looking at rosters and reading names while looking at faces. It’s last years’ pictures (or older) so it’s far from perfect. But any practice I can get in will help my brain start finding that deeper meaning, those distinguishing characteristics, a little faster.

A lot of animals are scent-based; dogs ID each other by scent more than anything, humans lost that ability thousands of generations ago.

A lot of birds have distinctive markings in UV light; humans can‘t see in UV light.

What we can do VERY well is pick up visual signs; you‘re so much better at seeing far away and fine things as a bloodhound is picking up a scent trail versus your clumsy nose. Dogs spent their brain points on nose, humans spent them on sight.

On top of that, humans have much more complex social interactions than other animals, done mainly through our face. A wolf pack may have to express when they’re scared or it’s time to hunt or they’re happy; humans can perform Shakespeare. Lots more range and subtle shading, most of it done through the face. That’s why we have so much facial control and recognition.

It’s same as all white and black people used to look the same to me in movies while growing up. It’s when you start paying attention do you notice the differences

I’m a birdwatcher so this reminded me of a particular little verse that seems to apply somewhat.

*”Here’s to the little chickadee;*
*The sexes are alike, you see.*
*It’s hard to tell the she from he;*
*But he can tell … and so can she!”*
*~ Harold Wilson*

Have you ever had pets? Dogs’ and Cats’ faces faces vary in the same way Humans’ do: ears, eyes, noses, facial structure are different, as are their expressions.

Was watching the documentary series Babies on Netflix. Some scientists discovered that younger babies can easily tell the difference between faces, whether they were human or ape or monkey.

We lose this ability because we see our parents/family’s faces so much, that over time we learn what our “group” looks like which eventually excludes monkeys and apes but also ends up excluding other races.

When we got baby chickens for the first time, I would spend hours just watching them, and their interactions with each other. I started noticing small differences between them, and I also started noticing different mannerisms between them. I think we just don’t look at animals as much as humans, and in turn don’t perceive them to be different.