Scientists have just made an incredible discovery about the shape of your nose.
A discovery about the human nose finds that there’s a lot more to the shape of this facial feature than you probably think — and it could lead to critical breakthroughs in science.
A University College London research team wanted to understand why nose shapes vary so widely depending on the individual, and whether the fact that noses can come in a variety of shapes has something to do with the environment rather than just aesthetic variation, according to a university statement.
Scientists have suspected that the shape of the nose had something to do with our environment — for example, perhaps Europeans tend to have narrower noses to adopt to cold and dry climates. So they looked at 6,000 individuals in several countries in Central and South America, which was chosen due to the amount of biological diversity, as people there often have Caucasian, African, and Native American in their blood. They examined their facial features and even did 3D constructions for about half of them.
After examining the genomes, scientists identified three genes that appear to affect bone and cartilage growth, and thus the shape of the nose.
“Few studies have looked at how normal facial features develop and those that have only looked at European populations, which show less diversity than the group we studied,” the first author of the report, Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari, UCL Cell & Developmental Biology, said in the statement. “What we’ve found are specific genes which influence the shape and size of individual features, which hasn’t been seen before. Finding out the role each gene plays helps us to piece together the evolutionary path from Neanderthal to modern humans. It brings us closer to understanding how genes influence the way we look, which is important for forensics applications.”
Added Professor Andrés Ruiz-Linares UCL Biosciences, who led the study: “It has long been speculated that the shape of the nose reflects the environment in which humans evolved. For example, the comparatively narrower nose of Europeans has been proposed to represent an adaptation to a cold, dry climate. Identifying genes affecting nose shape provides us with new tools to examine this question, as well as the evolution of the face in other species. It may also help us understand what goes wrong in genetic disorders involving facial abnormalities.”