General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Why do some people look alike who aren't related?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9100 points ) January 30th, 2011

Not just similar, but there seems there are certain types of people. I heard once that there are 14 different faces. I don’t have an example of this, but I’m sure that I can find one without much trouble.

Has anyone else heard about the 14 different faces? Is there a list of recurring faces that occur in different cultures?

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7 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s a big gene pool, but still finite! : )

Neophyte's avatar

First, one must understand that the way people look is determined by our genes. Some genes contribute to physical traits, called phenotypes. A face is made up of a few different characteristics: hair color, eye color, nose shape, etc. If two people have similar genes, even from two different sets of parents, they will look alike. As for the 14 faces bit, I’m calling BS.

MissAnthrope's avatar

There are waaaay too many possible combinations for there to be only 14 faces. I do agree that there appears to be certain repeated facial phenotypes, but I imagine there are at least a hundred.

Basically, there are only so many possibilities for each point. Widow’s peak or not. Round, oval, diamond, etc. face. Round chin, square chin. Prominent chin, small chin. Pronounced cheekbones, subtle cheekbones. Thin nose bridge, thick nose bridge. Wide nose, narrow nose. Full upper lip, thin upper lip. Full lower lip, thin lower lip.

And so on, for an array of different points. This provides humans with amazing diversity, something which has helped us become such a successful species. So, it’s like rolling a die for each point. You’ll get a lot of randomness and people who don’t look alike. Eventually, just out of sheer randomness, you’ll end up with people who do share the same traits on all or most points and they will share a similar phenotype.

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iamthemob's avatar

One of the current theories of our evolution, as well as of our anthropological history, is that every human is descended from an exceedingly small group of mating pairs (about 1000 couples). Humans are incredibly closely related to each other compared with other species…so it’s not surprising that this might be expressed in a visible similarity.

john65pennington's avatar

People are like snowflakes. They all look the same, but a closer examination reveils that they are all different, just like people.

Kardamom's avatar

I wish I knew the answer to this question, but I don’t. When I was in junior high school there was a girl that came from a different elementary school that looked like she could be my twin sister. It was freaky! She ended up being a really good friend of mine, but it was never spoken out loud by the two of us that we looked alike. We were quite different, otherwise, she was an amazing athlete and very outgoing. At the time, I was shy and didn’t come into my own athletically until 10th grade. I haven’t seen her since high school, it would be interesting to see her now.

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