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Human face formation

You might not be aware of this, but during its early development a fetus looks remarkably like something from the dawn of time. Its face starts as a serious of paired tissue mounds called branchial arches. There's a human fetus's head during the first month of development, when it was still an embryo. Its face starts as a series of paired tissue mounds called branchial arches. Let's take a look from the front. The embryo's face actually forms from the first and second branchial arches, along with the area just above it. The forehead and nose form from this area. (pause) These areas will form the cheekbones, and these lower areas will form the lower jaw. And this area will form the mouth. At 28 days of development, you can see the lower jaw, which has fused together from the branchial arches. The thickenings you see here will eventually form the nostrils. By day 31, you can see the nostrils have started to form. And, quite remarkably, the eyes have now appeared on each side of the head. Two days later, the nostrils have moved toward the center of the face. You can also see that as the ears begin to form, they are positioned in a pretty odd location. But don't worry, they will move. At 35 days, the nostrils are even closer together, and we can see more of the eyes. At 40 days, the baby has developed eyelids, and the nose looks much more developed. Here he is at 48 days and he's looking pretty darn good. The nasal swellings have joined in the center of the face, and the eyes have moved to the front of the head. Three weeks later, the fetus looks more human than ever. After that, its face continues to develop more typical proportions right up until the time of its birth. Let's look at the entire process again. As you can see, the development of the face is a fascinating process that has some very dramatic changes taking place in a relatively short amount of time.

Human face formation

Review Date: 5/10/2019

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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