Variations in Anatomy/proportion

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  08 August 2005
Variations in Anatomy/proportion

This is a thread for the discussion of variations in anatomy such as proportions, creases/folds, mutations, artificially imposed variations, distribution of fat, colour etc.

I originally started this in the Artistic forum but it got a bit philisophical so I am re-staring it here. This first post contains a list of variations and I will try to update it with input from other people giving credit where it is due.

I am doing this partly because I see a lot of very similar faces in art which don't reflect the full variety that you get if you look at people on the street or around the world.

Feel free to correct me. Where I can't remember a name I write *blank*.


There are wide extreems of height between the pygmees and the Dinka. Pygmees don't get much above 5 ft and it is thought that this is because it helps them to live in caves and other places where other people cant go.

The Dinka people of Africa average at over 6 ft (including women). This height is attributed to the need to keep cool (long thin legs=cool).

There are congenital characteristics such as dwarfism (see "significant Variatoins) and *blank* which can lead to people being very small. Whilst dwarfs have a "normal" size head, people who are *blank* have a smaller head and brain.


The width of people is another characteristic given largely by climate. People in cooler climates tend to be wider - for instance the Vikings are very wide at the chest with shorter arms. This is to increase the body/surface ratio so that they don't get cold.


There are also wide variations in colour. These variatoins are due to the amount of sun that people recieve. There is no strict correlation between race and colour as the Aboriginees are black whilst being most closely related to the chineese who range from light brown to very pale.

Some people are albino which means that they have no pigment in thier skin. There are examples of this from all around the world - for example the singer "Saif Kiata" (sic?) is African albino.


There are wide variations in the ways that eyes look. For instance the eyes of asians and some Africans have 'almond' eyes. Since almond eyes appear in many groups of people, it has been suggested that all humans originally had them and people such as Europeans lost them.

I found this link which has more anatomical detail:

More Here:

Eye colour varies from dark brown through grey, green and blue. Some peple have different colours for each eye (for example, David Bowie)


I found this:

"The zygomatic head of the Quadratus labii superioris and Risorius are frequently absent and more rarely the Zygomaticus. The Zygomaticus and Risorius may be doubled or the latter greatly enlarged or blended with the Platysma."

I found it here:

If anyone has the feintest clue what it means then I would be glad to know.


When people frown, lines can appear in several different places. The usual thing as far as I can tell is that a crease appears iether side of the area between the brows. However, in some people there will be just the one crease which appears right in the middle. Where there is a heavy brow that extends forwards from the bridge of the nose, there may be a horizontal crease above the nose.


Ear size varies a great deal between people and ears are smaller in babies than in adults. (see also ageing).

The lobe length can vary a great deal with some people having virtually no lobe whilst others have a large lobe.

Some ears hug the head whilst others stick out. Surgery is sometimes used to make people with 'sticky out' ears feel 'normal'.

Some people have sticky out ears (jmBoekestein). See also "significant variation".


There are many colours of hair from a strong red to a dark black. Hair colour genes can be recessive or diminent so that a couple with brown hair may both have the recessive gene for red hair which will only show up when thier child gets both the red genes. This means that 1 in 4 of thier childeren will have red hair.

Hairyness varies a great deal. Some people are born without hair an never develop it whilst others have hair all over. It is thought that this is due to a recessive gene left over from the past but it could be as a result of the combination of other genes.

The hair line can vary in hieght a great deal. Some women will shave thier hair line to where they want it. Some see this as an advantage, giving them the choice as to where it goes.

The length of hair varies a great deal too. Some men are capable of growing very lengthy beards whilst others can't.

In much of the shikh community it is the custom for men to grow thier hair long and wrap there hair in a turben. This signifies strength. Others, such as the Bhuddist monks, shave thier head as a sign of purity.


It seems evident that sexual selection or natural selection, or both, has resulted in us having a small jaw - certainly compared to our ancesters. This has led to a great number of people having more teeth than can comfortably fit into their mouths. In many places, teeth are left alone but elsewhere they are extracted strategically and a brace put in place to push the remainting teeth together.

Some people on the other hand are borne with gaps between the teeth.

There is a condition called *blank* where the teeth grow very thin.


There are variations in finger length which are largely caused by variations in the exposure to sex hormones in the womb (testosterone for example). These can be linked to personality types etc. (thanks PSR for this)


Here are some feet which are quite different. They are each the property of middle aged women. (thanks to Stahlberg for this one). I believe that one of those feet has been squeesed into ill-fitting shoes in its time.


The amount of fat on a body varies a lot for both cultural and genetic reasons. Fat and Sugar have, until recently, been hard come buy and we have no mechanism to tell us to stop eating them other than our common sense. This has led many people in wealthy countries such as America and Australia to be over-weight.

Fat diposits uccur on the belly, the upper back, around the kidneys and the neck for both men and women. Women accumulate more around the breasts and men more around the belly.

The large belly of many men is caused by sub-cutaniouse fat which forms around the vital organs as a buffer from poisoning - often caused by the excessive consumption of alchahol.

In many countries and in times past it has been considered attractive for women to be fat
Whilst the degree to which fat is considered beautifull varies, the waste/hip/chest ratios of the ideal are constant.

Also, whilst large breasts are fairly universally appreciated, the ideal shape is not universal, with some people prefering the droopier sort (such as the bangladeshees I believe).


Symettry is generally regarded as beautifull and the rational for this is that it shows 'good genes', good developement and few desies. For the most part this is true enough. However, few people, however beautifull have completely cemetrical bodies - and if they do then there is sometihg wrong with them. It isn't only the internal organs (heart, liver) which are a-symetrical but the eyes.

It is usual for one eye to be higher than the other and this aids depth perception. The degree of a-symmetry in this regard is subject to some variatoin.

Some people have heads which grow larger on one side than on the other. This is probably to do with developement in the womb.

Some people have a leg that is larger than another.

Significant Variatoins

People have been born with a number of fingers other than the usual including 4 and 6 on a hand.

Some people have webbed feet and sometimes hands too. It has been suggested that this may be a residual characteristic by those who subscribe to the contravercial but plausable "aquatic ape" hypothosis which supposes that humans evolved around the coast. There are other possible explanations however. People often have these webs removed with surgery.

There have been people borne with an extra leg.

One in every 2000 people are borne with de-formed or ambiguous genitals. These are usuallly operated upon at birth although sex is often mis-identified which causes complicatoins later on.

Dwarfism effects around one in every 40,000 people and has many causes. Achondroplasia is the most common, affecting about 80% of 'little people'. See more here:

There is a rare condition called *blank* which causes people to be small and have pointy ears. It is also said that such people have unusualy well developed musical abilities. It is possible that they are the original source of the elf myth.

There are many variatons which are regarded as 'freakish' such as siemese twins etc. Here is a link showing waxwork models of such things: (thanks Kargokultti)

Minor mutations

One of my toes is a little shorter than the others. I have no explanation for this.

Cleft palletes are fairly common and it is usual for these to operated on at birth to aid eating and speaking.

Many women (but not all) have high cheek bones and this is considered attractive. Fleshy pads on the cheeks have evolved (probably through natural selection) to cause this to happen.

Examples of culturally enforced variation of shape.

In much of the western world, women have the desire to be thin. Many people who see images of western models assume that they have diareah and are about to die. However, some people are naturally very thin and this can be considered normal.

In the *blank* tribe, two girls are selected to be the breeding stock and are kept in cages to be force fed.

There is the case of the *Blank* tribe where a woman with plump calves is considered beautifull. This has lead to some sexual selection which is accentuated by the binding of the legs.

In China, it was the custom to bind womans feet so that they don't grow large. This is considered beautifull but caused a great amunt of pain. The causet is similar example.

One of the most extreem cases of beauty through disfigurement is in the *blank* people who bind the heads of childeren to make them grow into extended shapes.

Another example is that of the girraffe women who earn a ring around thier neck for each year of fidelity. Through time, this streaches their neck - sometimes to a hazardus extent. Should they be un-faithfull then one of these rings is removed. This increases the danger that their neck will collapse and they will become paralysed.

The *blank* people have a custom of filing the teeth of women down to stumps as this is considerd beautifull.

The woman of the *blank* tribe insert ceramic discs into holes in their lips and thier lower front teeth are knocked out. The discs are replaced from time to time by larger ones. The larger the disc, the more that the girl will recieve from the Grooms faimily upon marriage. It is thought that this practice began fairly recently as a measure to prevent slave traders from taking people who didn't look like they would be able to work well. It is a tradition that is now seen as pointless and is dying.

Examples of variations in features causing other variations.

Some people have small chins (receded chins) and others have large front teeth. This can result in their lower front teeth extending further forward than do their upper teeth. If this is combined with a large lower lip then the lower lip can be pushed down by the teeth and will over-hang.

Tall but timid people will often slouch and this can lead to them having a curved spine. A similar thing uccurs in people who hang thier head where the head ends up in a forward position.


Features such as the nose and ears become larger over time. It is generally accepted that this is due to the force of gravity.

Variation around the world

Whilst the notion of descreet races has not been backed up by science and many notions of race been proven incorrect, there are genetic variations that have, in some cases a braud Geological correlation. I will try to collate some information on this subject here.

First off, some links about the subject can be found here:

American indians:


Some people are said to be double jointed. They are not really double jointed but rather have the ability to bend an extraodinary amount or otherwise perform feats of bodily movement which break ice at parties.

Young girls are generally more flexible than old men.

A school friend of mine was able to bend his fingers right back to touch his wrist. It is not advized that one attempts this.

I am able to perform all of the standard tricks with my tongue. I can roll it into a tube latteraly or length wise, roll it entirely upside down clockwise or anti-clockwise and touch my nose with it. I have been christened "the tongue" as a result. I have yet to find any practical use for my abilities.

General reference:

http://www.female-anatomy-for-artis...ntent/index.htm (thanks Llynna)

I found these references all about anatomical variation but I can't begin to work out what all the terms mean:

Lots of face images to look at (click on the letters) (thanks Alice)


Last edited by John Keates : 08 August 2005 at 12:11 PM.
  08 August 2005
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