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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Lisa A. Parr, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 954 Gatewood Rd., Atlanta, GA 30329. Phone: (404) 727-3653. Fax: (404) 727-8088. Email: lparr@emory.edu

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Dr. Andy Fuglevand and Dr. Fumihiro Kano for assistance with the development of the MaqFACS manual, and Ryan Huang and Prisca Zimmerman for assistance with video editing.

Disclosures: The Yerkes National Primate Research Center is fully accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care.

Research Funding:

This investigation was supported by RR-00165 from the NIH/NCRR to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and R03-MH082282 to LA Parr.


  • FACS
  • facial expression
  • musculature
  • phylogeny
  • movement
  • ChimpFACS
  • monkey
  • evolution
  • homology

MaqFACS: A Muscle-Based Facial Movement Coding System for the Rhesus Macaque


Journal Title:

American Journal of Physical Anthropology


Volume 143, Number 4


, Pages 625-630

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Over 125 years ago, Charles Darwin suggested that the only way to fully understand the form and function of human facial expression was to make comparisons to other species. Nevertheless, it has been only recently that facial expressions in humans and related primate species have been compared using systematic, anatomically-based techniques. Through this approach, large scale evolutionary and phylogenetic analyses of facial expressions, including their homology, can now be addressed. Here, the development of a muscular-based system for measuring facial movement in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) is described based on the well-known FACS (Facial Action Coding System) and ChimpFACS. These systems describe facial movement according to the action of the underlying facial musculature, which is highly conserved across primates. The coding systems are standardized, so their use is comparable across laboratories and study populations. In the development of MaqFACS, several species differences in the facial movement repertoire of rhesus macaques were observed in comparison to chimpanzees and humans, particularly with regard to brow movements, puckering of the lips, and ear movements. These differences do not appear to be the result of constraints imposed by morphological differences in the facial structure of these three species. It is more likely that they reflect unique specializations in the communicative repertoire of each species.

Copyright information:

© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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