How Our Ancestors' Climate Affects the Shape of our Noses

We usually attribute our facial features—and other physical characteristics—to genetics. But a recent study suggests nose shape is determined in part by our ancestors' adaptation to the climate in which they lived. Nose shape varies considerably from person to person, but there are often similarities within certain ethnic groups.

For the study, researchers selected 2,637 people from four populations—North Europeans, South Asian, East Asian, and West African—out of a database of about 10,000. They looked at nose characteristics, such as the width of the nostrils, distance between nostrils, height of the nose, protrusion, and others.

According to researchers, several of these characteristics have a strong correlation to factors like temperature and humidity levels. The nose and nasal cavity warm and moisten air before it reaches the lower respiratory tract. Therefore, longer, thinner noses are more common in dry, cold climates and short, wide noses are more common in hot, humid areas.

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Sourced from: CNN