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The face is a central body region of sense and is also very central in the expression of emotion among humans and among numerous other species. The face is normally found on the anterior (frontal, rostral) surface of the head of animals or humans, although not all animals have faces. The face is crucial for human identity, and damage such as scarring or developmental deformities have effects stretching beyond those of solely physical inconvenience.

The face is the feature which best distinguishes a person. Specialized regions of the human brain, such as the fusiform face area (FFA), enable facial recognition; when these are damaged, it may be impossible to recognize faces even of intimate family members. The pattern of specific organs, such as the eyes, or of parts of them, is used in biometric identification to uniquely identify individuals.

The shape of the face is influenced by the bone-structure of the skull, and each face is unique through the anatomical variation present in the bones of the viscerocranium (and neurocranium). The bones involved in shaping the face are mainly the maxilla, mandible, nasal bone and zygomatic bone. Also important are various soft tissues, such as fat, hair and skin (of which color may vary).

The face changes over time, and features common in children or babies, such as prominent buccal fat-pads disappear over time, their role in the infant being to stabilize the cheeks during suckling. While the buccal fat-pads often diminish in size, the prominence of bones increase with age as they grow and develop.

Facial shape is an important determinant of beauty, particularly facial symmetry.

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