Climate Has A Hand In The Development Of The Nose Shape

nose shape and face profile

According to a new study, the nose shape is not determined solely by genetics and gender.

According to a new study, the nose shape is not determined solely by genetics and gender. Instead, it may very well depend on the climate as it confirms Thompson’s Nose Rule.

A study on the matter was carried out by Pennsylvania State University researchers. Research results were released on March 16th. They were published in the PLOS Genetics journal. The paper was titled: “Investigating the case of human nose shape and climate adaptation”.

What Is Thompson’s Nose Rule and How Does It Tie With The Nose Shape?

Thompson’s Nose Rule was introduced back in the 1800s by Arthur Thompson. He was a British anatomist and anthropologist. According to his theory, people developed noses with wider nostrils in warmer climates. At the same time, narrower nostrils were more likely to develop in colder environments.

Noses “condition” air before reaching the lungs. As such, in colder areas, a narrower nose would be more effective at warming the air.

Previous studies tested this theory by studying and measuring skull shapes. Neither involved the nose or humans themselves. This new study focuses on these exact elements. The team measured the nose dimensions of living people.

“We focused on nose traits that differ across populations and looked at geographical variation with respect to temperature and humidity”.

This is according to Mark D. Shriver. He is one of the study’s lead authors. The team took measurements from 476 volunteers. These had Northern European, West African, South Asian, and East Asian ancestries.

Then, the researchers used 3D facial imaging to analyze specific elements. They studied the nose shape by measuring its height and length. They also measured the width and distance of the nostrils.

The Nose Shape Is Determined By More Than Just One Factor

According to the study results, the shape of the nose is ultimately determined by the climate. This long process of adaptation to the local environment leaves its traces on the nose. This is a universal factor, which is then coupled with genetics. The team does point out that genetic drifts, this random process did contribute. Separating climatic from genetic factors is a difficult process.

However, according to Shriver, “it all goes back to Thompson’s Rule”. He also points out that the nose shape develops differently according to gender. This difference is not unexpected as most features vary in size in accordance to their male or female bearer.

The team also considers that it is important to analyze and determine the evolution process of the nose. This could help science better understand and treat potential health problems. The researchers will continue studying the nose shape and properties as it will turn its attention to other factors, outside the sphere of genetics or the environment.

They will be turning their attention towards social and cultural factors which might have had a hand in the evolution of the nose.

Image Source: Pixabay 


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