MEN today are more handsome than their ancestors. That’s because “choosy” women got the upper hand in the battle for sexual power, say scientists.

As our ancestors evolved, the ability to attract a female mate changed. Good looks may have become more important than the ability to fight off male rivals, suggests a new study.

By studying the faces of chimpanzees, gorillas and other monkeys, researchers in Germany and the University of Cambridge have come to believe that our ancestors may have sacrificed fighting for mating in other ways, reports New Scientist magazine.

“Our research suggests that in early humans, a face that was attractive had an advantage,” says Eleanor Weston at the Research Institute Senckenberg in Frankfurt, Germany.

Weston says that changes were probably caused by choosy females who began to demand handsomeness, not physical force.

Prominent teeth that still indicate a male’s power and fighting ability in many primates like baboons and gorillas, may have been replaced by less aggressive teeth and looks.

Broader faces with prominent cheekbones, not unlike those of contemporary movie stars — including Orlando Bloom of the UK, Johnny Depp and Viggo Mortensen of the US — were preferred by females.

Sexual selection was starting to be driven by the attractiveness of a male’s face in the chimpanzees, believes Weston. This went together with the development of broader faces with more prominent cheekbones.