This groove on the face, which is located between the nose and upper lip, is called philtrum. But scientists are asking this question for a long time: why and by what biological mechanisms philtrum appears? Here are some scientific insights.
The philtrum: a groove between the upper lip and nose is a subject of many myths
Philtrum is this little groove just below the nose and goes to the border of the upper lip. It is also called Cupid’s bow because according to some beliefs, the groove is created by an angel who put his finger there to make the children sleep.
After another interpretation of Jewish tradition at the time of birth, the Angel of Conception lays his finger on the upper lip of the newborn baby to silence the divine secrets relating to the creation and birth.
The philtrum explained by science
According to science, this groove is linked to the evolution and development of our face in the uterus. In this regard, BBC has produced a series called Inside the Human Body in which we can see a reconstruction in a 3D video, which explains how the face of a baby develops in the uterus like a puzzle with different pieces, gradually piece by piece, over the first three months.
The face is formed over the first 2 to 3 months
Three months after conception, the three main sections of the face (nose, eyes, mouth) start to form and will meet in the middle of the upper lip, forming the philtrum (linking the three different parts in one). The face formation takes place during the second and third months of pregnancy.
The formation of the face is a set of processes and complex growth mechanisms resulting from the fusion of different moving tissues. Some tissues will merge at the philtrum. When they do not fuse well, cleft lip may form and cause congenital malformation (harelip, etc.).
A person who has a smooth philtrum can also indicate fetal alcohol syndrome
What are the main physical signs in a child with this syndrome? Most of the time, the faces are characterized by a narrow forehead, low and curved, flat arches eyebrows, a short nose, narrow eye slits, a smooth philtrum or no thin upper lip, etc.
The human embryo has many similarities with the embryo of a mammal (bird or amphibian): the eyes are formed on the sides and move to the middle. To merge properly, the three sections must grow and merge at the right time, according to a specific timing. If the merger does not happen according to good timing, this is where defects can occur (cleft lip, cleft palate, etc.).