Do Babies Resemble Their Fathers More Than Their Mothers?

Recent studies do not support the claim of an enhanced resemblance between fathers and their young offspring

By John Matson 

Father and child in the nursery FATHER’S FEATURES? Most studies find that babies resemble both parents in approximately equal measures. Image: © USGirl/iStockphoto

Does junior really have his father’s nose?
A common bit of parenting folklore holds that babies tend to look more like their fathers than their mothers, a claim with a reasonable evolutionary explanation. Fathers, after all, do not share a mother’s certainty that a baby is theirs, and are more likely to invest whatever resources they have in their own offspring. Human evolution, then, could have favored children that resemble their fathers, at least early on, as a way of confirming paternity.
The paternal-resemblance hypothesis got some scientific backing in 1995, when a study in Nature by Nicholas Christenfeld and Emily Hill of the University of California, San Diego, showed that people were much better at matching photos of one-year-old children with pictures of their fathers than with photos of their mothers. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

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