You know those two little bumps between your nose and your lip? What is that called, and why is it there?
In the medical textbooks, the focus isn’t so much on the two bumps, but the groove or dip between them. This groove, which extends down from your nose to your lip, is called the philtrum.
The bumps serve no purpose themselves, but are in fact a remnant, a seam if you will, of the way your face developed when you were about 6 months away from being born. In that sense, it is not unlike the bumpiness of a scar where a deep cut has grown back together. Three parts of your face actually grew together, joined, and fused into one solid and lovely you right at that very spot.
Being that we develop no different than most other mammals (gasp!), you’ll find other animals with prominent philtrums. Many dogs and cats have a noticeable gap that runs up the middle of their nose. As written about a while back here on LSNED, camels have a completely split upper lip, with independent control over each side.
About 1 in 700 babies may be born with a cleft lip, or “hare lip”, wherein the upper lip has not completely joined together, leaving a bit of a gap. This is often corrected by surgery when they are about 6 months old.
P.S. I came across an interesting video from a BBC documentary that features a computer-generated look at how your facial feature form in the womb. Really neat!
- Source: Philtrum – Wikipedia