View Full Version : No consensus on the number of facial muscles in the human face?

08-09-2014, 03:10 AM

There doesn't seem to be any consensus on the number of muscles in a human face. I've searched many websites and all give me different answers. Some say we have 19 muscle groups and muscles within those muscles others say about 60 muscles. Is there any consensus at all? I look forward to your feedback.

08-09-2014, 03:27 AM

Some say we have 19 muscle groups and muscles within those muscles others say about 60 muscles.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong but these two statements aren't necessarily at odds.

08-09-2014, 04:18 AM
I would suggest that you look for a source a bit more authoritative than "many websites", perhaps a textbook of physiology (and then check the references given there, if you you really want to know what is known).

08-09-2014, 10:30 AM

It lists the following but doesn't give an actual number. How should I interpret "The facial muscles include: ?. Is it all of them or some of them?

List of muscles[edit]
The facial muscles include:[2]

Occipitofrontalis muscle
Temporoparietalis muscle
Procerus muscle
Nasalis muscle
Depressor septi nasi muscle
Orbicularis oculi muscle
Corrugator supercilii muscle
Depressor supercilii muscle
Auricular muscles (anterior, superior and posterior) (Should I count these as 3??)
Orbicularis oris muscle
Depressor anguli oris muscle
Zygomaticus major muscle
Zygomaticus minor muscle
Levator labii superioris
Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi muscle
Depressor labii inferioris muscle
Levator anguli oris
Buccinator muscle

08-09-2014, 10:35 AM

"Although 43 muscles have been identified in the face, it's not uncommon to have fewer. The complex process of identifying facial muscles and why their appearance is inconsistent is the real story here."

08-09-2014, 03:29 PM
Glurge: "It takes X muscles to smile, and Y muscles to frown!" Where Y>X. Even as a child I thought: It's not like our muscles have a finite number of uses. Frowning isn't going to hurt you, it's better exercise!

The FACS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial_Action_Coding_System) has a list of muscles and combinations used in expression, but I don't think it's intended to imply that there aren't more.

Also, more widely, head muscles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_muscles_in_the_human_body#Head).

08-09-2014, 04:23 PM
Thank you for those links thelurkinghorror. I will try to get my hands on some physiology books. Thanks all.

08-09-2014, 11:01 PM
You may not find a clear and definitive answer, even in the books. As your own posts here show, the individuation and "counting" of muscles is, to a considerable extent, a matter of interpretation. Furthermore, the specific number of individual muscles, as opposed to the characterization of the structure and function of the various parts of the musculature, is a "fact" of virtually no scientific significance. The plastic surgeon or the physiognomist does not need to know how many facial muscles there are, they need to know where each one is,and what it does. The count is irrelevant. I am finding it hard to imagine why anyone would want to know a specific number, unless it were to answer a quiz question, or something similarly trivial. Why, I wonder, do you care about having a definitive number?

08-10-2014, 01:16 AM
I have several books at home that give different figures. When I searched online to solve the discrepancy, I discovered that there was no consensus about it. Why authors insist on giving an exact number beats me, when the number (if the link I posted is to be believed) may actually vary from individual to individual.(see link)


“…43 facial muscles, though some people have fewer facial muscles than others -- up to 40 percent fewer. This variation in the number of facial muscles in humans is a fairly new discovery. “

08-10-2014, 01:38 AM
New discovery? It is an old cliché that East Asians have more facial muscles than Caucasians do, which is (supposedly) why Asians seem inscrutable to Europeans (because their facial expressions are actually more subtle and complex than ours, and we are not attuned to deciphering them). I always wrote it off as a bit of racist mythology (I think another component of the story was that Africans have fewer facial muscles than Europeans, thus making their expressions less subtle) but hey, who knows? There may be new evidence, but it is certainly not a new idea that people might differ in this regard.