Climate Changes Not Genetics Shaped The Human Nose, Reveals Study

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A new study suggests that the current shape of human nose is a result of the local climate of our ancestors, as well as how they evolved with the changes in climate.

Every person has a distinctly-shaped nose which is considerably different from others. The study found that different ethnicities have their distinct shapes of nose as well. For example, people from West Africa, South Asia and East Asia have larger nasal alare than their European counterparts.

A major part of the study contains 3D scanning of the faces of more 10,000 people to examine features, which may differ continuously within minutes.

“I’ve always been fascinated by things that are different between human populations,” says Mark Shriver, a geneticist and anthropologist at Pennsylvania State University.

How Was The Study Conducted?

Shiver and his other team members chose 2,637 people from a database of over 10,000 individuals. Those selected were from four different populations: North Europeans, South Asians, East Asians and West Africans. The team examined the 3D images of each individual and analyzed each section of their nose in particular.

Through a set of cameras placed around the face, the exact dimensions of each nose was mapped. These dimensions were then studied intensely to pinpoint the differences and similarities.

Result Of The Study

The researchers discovered that people belonging to a place with warm and humid conditions commonly possess wider noses, whereas people from cold and dry places seemed to have narrower ones.

To justify how local climate could reinforce the outlook of your nose, the researchers said that the thickness of the nostrils is firmly connected to the temperature and humidity. Why? As it allows people to cope with the local climate.

The nose and nasal cavity acts as a personal air conditioner to the human body, which helps not only in warming up the air but also damping it, before the air goes to the lower respiratory area.

As thin nostrils help the nose to warm and moisten the air more conveniently, it is more important for the people who live in places with cold and dry weather.

“Some of the nose variation is really the climate; some of it’s not,” said Shriver.

Along with the climate, sexual selection also plays a major role in shaping the nose, as people are likely to choose mates based on their beauty. People reportedly find a smaller nose more appealing, than a bigger and wider nose.

The study discovered that ecological and sexual selection generally support each other to give the shape of the nose. As one finds a big difference in the shapes and sizes between male and female noses, it is the outcome of sexual selection per researchers.

The study has been published on March 16 in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Photo: Elvert Barnes | Flickr

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