Human Noses Shaped By Climate, Researchers Reveal

First Posted: Mar 20, 2017 05:46 AM EDT

Noses, which animals use to smell, seemed like they evolved thanks to natural selection. However, it seems that it was not the case. Human noses were actually shaped by climate, a research revealed.

According to The Guardian, researchers found that wider nostrils developed in civilizations living in warm, humid temperatures. People living in high latitudes and in chilly, dry conditions, on the other hand, developed narrower nostrils.

Study co-author Arslan Zaidi from the Pennsylvania State University shared that people originally thought that nose shape rose from natural selection. However, a study that looked into the shape of noses revealed that climate played a bigger role.

The journal PLOS Genetics revealed that by using 3D facial imaging to take measurements of 476 south Asian, east Asian, west African and northern European ancestry, researchers found variations in nose shapes. The results revealed that traits were found to differ more than expected between populations, with further analysis showing that nose shape is hereditary. The research team then checked to see if there is a link between the nose shape and climate.

Researchers found that the nostril width differed significantly in different regions. Physical traits that undergo natural selection usually evolve faster, which is why the researchers thought to look at the nose shape. Overall, it seems that people with parents or ancestors from warm and humid climates tend to have wider nostrils, while those from cold and dry climates have narrower ones. The strongest correlations were strongest for Northern Europeans, which showed how cold, dry, climates favored those with narrow nostrils.

Still, as reported by The New York Times, nostril sizes do not correlate with climate as much as skin pigmentation does. However, it does indicate other factors involved in procreation, such as the cultural differences regarding what is attractive or not. Further studies will be needed to test the link between climate and nose shape for more definitive conclusions.

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