We’ve reported before on how important eyes can be. It turns out that the way we use our eyes can give people in the know information about what we?re are thinking, whether we?re paying attention, and whether or not we are telling a lie.

Ker Than reports in LiveScience.com that biologists study this by observing primates. Michael Tomasello, a researcher from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, studied the reactions to certain head and eye movements made by a human researcher in a group of great apes, consisting of 11 chimpanzees, four gorillas and four bonobos, as compared to a group of 40 human infants (and no, they did not react the same way).

In the study, a researcher closed his eyes and tilted his head up toward the ceiling, kept his head still while looking at the ceiling, looked at the ceiling with both his head and eyes, and kept his head still while looking straight ahead.

The great apes were more likely to follow the researcher’s gaze with their own eyes when he moved only his head, but the 40 human infants looked up more often when the researcher moved only his eyes, as if they were not so interested in what the researcher was looking at, as what he was THINKING.

Humans are one of the few living creatures who have “whites” showing at the corners of their eyes, which makes it possible to know in what direction we are looking. This makes it likely that are eyes evolved to give subtle clues to the people who are observing us.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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