Supraorbital ridge

Supraorbital ridge

The supraorbital ridge, or brow ridge, refer to a bony ridge located above the eye sockets of all primates. In Homo sapiens sapiens (modern man) the eyebrows are located on their lower margin.

Other terms in use are:
* "supraorbital arch"
* "supraorbital torus"
* "superciliary ridge"
* "arcus superciliaris" (Latin, meaning "superciliary arch")
* "supraorbital margin" and "the margin of the orbit"

Anthropological concept

The size of these ridges varies also between different species of Primate, either living or fossil. The closest living relatives of man, the Great Apes, have relatively pronounced supraorbital ridges, while in modern humans it is relatively reduced. The fossil record indicates that the supraorbital ridge in early homo was reduced as the cranial vault grew and became positioned vertically, above the face.

Some paleoanthropologists distinguish between "torus" and "ridge." In anatomy, a "torus" is a projecting shelf of bone. [For some basic English definitions refer to the American Heritage Dictionary online under [ supraorbital] and [ torus] . Webster's Third New International Dictionary also does not make the distinction.] Fossil hominids, in this theory, have the torus, but modern humans only have the ridge.


The brow ridge is a thick piece of bone on top of the eyes. Its purpose is to reinforce the weaker bones of the face in much the same way that the chin of modern humans was developed to reinforce their comparatively thin mandibles. This was necessary in pongids and early hominids because of the tremendous strain put on the cranium by their tremendous chewing apparatuses, which is best demonstrated by any of the members of the genus Paranthropus. The brow ridge was one of the last traits to be lost in the path to modern humans, and only disappeared with the development of the modern pronounced frontal lobe. This is one of the most salient differences between Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis The name for this theory is the Bio-mechanical model for brow ridge formation.


The folk-myth that the size of the ridges is a mark of the degree of development of rationality has no basis in fact. There is no link between the size of the ridges and any other anatomical trait, including intelligence, in modern humans.

In modern humans

Forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkenson says that Australoids have the largest brow ridges "with moderate to large supraorbital arches" . Caucasoids have the second largest brow ridges with "moderate supraorbital ridges" . Negroids have the third largest brow ridges with an "undulating supraorbital ridge". Mongoloids are "absent browridges" , so they have the smallest brow ridges.Wilkenson, Caroline. Forensic Facial Reconstruction. Cambridge University Press. 2004. ISBN 0521820030]

ee also

* Supraorbital


External links

* [ The Frontal Bone] , California State University at Chico site.
* [ ARCUS SUPERCILIARIS] , Webster's Online Dictionary.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • supraorbital ridge — n SUPERCILIARY RIDGE * * * arcus superciliaris …   Medical dictionary

  • supraorbital ridge — noun a ridge on the frontal bone above the eye socket • Syn: ↑supraorbital torus, ↑superciliary ridge, ↑superciliary arch • Hypernyms: ↑ridge * * * noun or supra …   Useful english dictionary

  • supraorbital ridge — Anat. browridge. [1835 45] * * * …   Universalium

  • Supraorbital — can refer to:*Supraorbital artery *Supraorbital foramen *Supraorbital gland *Supraorbital nerve *Supraorbital ridge *Supraorbital vein …   Wikipedia

  • supraorbital torus — noun a ridge on the frontal bone above the eye socket • Syn: ↑supraorbital ridge, ↑superciliary ridge, ↑superciliary arch • Hypernyms: ↑ridge * * * noun see supraorbital ridge …   Useful english dictionary

  • ridge — 1. A (usually rough) linear elevation. SEE ALSO: crest. 2. In dentistry, any linear elevation on the surface of a tooth. 3. The remainder of the alveolar process and its soft …   Medical dictionary

  • superciliary ridge — noun a ridge on the frontal bone above the eye socket • Syn: ↑supraorbital ridge, ↑supraorbital torus, ↑superciliary arch • Hypernyms: ↑ridge * * * noun or superc …   Useful english dictionary

  • superciliary ridge — n a prominence of the frontal bone above the eye caused by the projection of the frontal sinuses called also browridge, supraorbital ridge * * * arcus superciliaris …   Medical dictionary

  • brow|ridge — «BROW RIHJ», noun. the supraorbital ridge that overhangs the eye in the skulls of certain apes and hominoids: »the large browridges of the Neanderthal man s skullcap …   Useful english dictionary

  • Bio-mechanical model for brow ridge formation — Research done on this model has largely been based on earlier work of Endo (1965, 1966, 1970, and 1973). By applying pressure similar to the type associated with chewing, he carried out an analysis of the structural function of the supraorbital… …   Wikipedia

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