7 Common Facial Features That Are Actually Genetic Mutations

If, upon hearing the word “mutant,” you’re the kind of person who starts to feel a little queasy or weirded out, you probably not the only one. This word tends to conjure up images of seriously distorted, misshapen X Men-style people with, like, multiple lips, four sets of eyes, and an arm in your chest. Or something.


But it’s not actually that scary! Some mutations are actually pretty common–and, in a lot of cases, they’re not actually that big a deal. Mutants are all around us, technically, in the form of (very common) genetic mutations that can manifest on the face. In fact, it’s possible that you could have a mutation on your face without even knowing it. So, check out these super common facial features that are actually genetic mutations:


Dimples, which are basically a facial muscle deformity, aren’t always a mutation. They’re a “highly heritable” genetic trait, which means that people who have dimples tend to have kids with dimples, too. But while dimples are controlled mostly by one gene, they can also be influenced by other genes, meaning that dimples can sometimes appear to form spontaneously. AKA as a mutation.

Image source: iStock

Cleft Chin

I, like many people, have li'l dimple in my chin! One time, when I was very small, an older lady I had just met pressed her thumb under my chin and said, “This is what GOD did to you when he was making your face. I hope you appreciate that,” which was pretty rude and also something I that I could not appreciate, really, as I hadn’t yet gained the levels of cognizant thinking to do so. Anyway, theological discussions aside, cleft chins are a lot like regular dimples in that they are usually passed down through genetics--but not always. It’s actually possible for two non-cleft chin-having parents to have a kid with a cleft chin, as well as vice versa. This indicates that both the creation and exclusion of a chin dimple can be a mutation.

Image source: iStock

Double Eyelashes

Distichiasis is a rare disorder that creates an abnormal growth of lashes right on the waterline, giving anyone who has it a double row of eyelashes. Elizabeth Taylor (a very famous movie star in the sixties and seventies who was well-known for her eyes and some other things, ask your grandma about her), actuallyhad this disorder. I often tell people that I have distichiasis, because my eyelashes are stubby but extremely thick (“thicc,” as I prefer to say) and always seem to be growing straight into my eye, and very well could have an entirely superfluous layer, but the truth is that I have never gotten a professional medical opinion. In any case, it is a truth that I have decided I must make my own. Anyway. Let’s move on.

Image source:Taboo News

Extra Nipples

This isn't always a facial feature, technically, but it can be. If you have what looks like a mole somewhere on your body, you might want to look again, because it could be an extra nipple. This--AKA a “supernumerary nipple”--is a common, minor skin malformation that’s actually an evolutionary leftover, called an "atavism." About one in eighteen people has this condition, including someone you probably haven’t heard of, named Harry Styles.

Image source:One Direction Vevo

Multicolored Eyes

It’s pretty common to come across someone who has what looks like a birthmark on on the iris of the eye. This is actually a genetic mutation called heterochromia iridum. It's referred to as “central” or “sectoral” if it’s a splotch in one or both eyes, rather than both eyes being different colors). Generally, this is an inherited trait. It can also mean that you have multiple gene codes in your cells (which is called a “mosaic”) or you had two eggs fused into one zygote when you were, uh, created, each with a different gene for eye color.

Image source:Wikipedia

Different Colored Eyes

You can also have a complete heterochromia, which means that your left eye can be one color and your other a totally different color. Also a genetic mutation!

Image source: iStock

Blue Eyes

Obviously, blue eyes are pretty common today. But this wasn’t always the case! Once upon a time, everyone had brown eyes. Then, at some point about ten thousand years ago ago, a gene called OCA2, which controls your eye’s color, was affected by another one of its neighbor genes (so rude!) and started to limit OCA2’s ability to produce melanin (which helps it make color) in the iris. This means that blue eyes aren’t technically a color, they’re a lack of color, and that everyone who has blue eyes today is descended from someone who had this genetic mutation ten thousand years ago.

Image source: iStock

Were you surprised by any of these features? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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