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We humans have faces, as well as many other animals, like cats, dogs, monkeys, etc. But there was a time on planet Earth before there were any faces in living things. I am currently very interested in how faces evolved. Is there any book or paper on this topic? I would like some references.

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    $\begingroup$ What is and isn't a face? Do mice not have faces? What about a crocodile? A fish? A fruit fly? If any of those do not have a face, what makes what they do have not a face? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 9 at 2:50
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    $\begingroup$ To expand on Bryan's question: how is it different from the evolution of heads? $\endgroup$ Jan 9 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ @MaximilianPress A head of lettuce, for example. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Jan 10 at 0:25

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If what you are interested in is really the evolution of heads (which I think imply faces), then cephalization is what you are looking for.

Namely, when bilaterally symmetric organisms colocalize sensory organs, feeding apparatus, nervous system, and in most cases a brain.

Phylogeny depicting the inferred step of cephalization in animal evolution Fig 1: Wikipedia's figure showing where cephalization occurred.

Note that starfish and other echinoderms lost their ancestral cephalized state and went back to radially symmetric headless animals!

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting article in Nature: nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06669-2 "This finding suggests that from the perspective of ectoderm patterning, echinoderms are mostly head-like animals and provides a developmental rationale for the re-evaluation of the events that led to the evolution of the derived adult body plan of echinoderms." - perhaps they're more bodyless than headless! $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 9 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause woah. biology is weird! $\endgroup$ Jan 9 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ @MaximilianPress Perhaps you are the one who is weird, he who has a strange body hanging off its head. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Jan 10 at 3:28

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