Petite, bulbous, hooked, up-turned, sharp, wide, or prominent, people attribute the shapes and distinctive characteristics of their noses to a parent or grandparent through the study of genetics. But did you know that the unique shape actually formed as a result of evolutionary adaptation? According to an article published in the Journals of PLOS Genetics, nose shape among populations are not simply the result of genetic drift, but may be adaptations to climate.
Rather than focusing on the variations in height, skin color or hair color throughout the world, global researchers led by a team at the Department of Anthropology at Penn State University, took into consideration a variety of nasal differences, such as nasal, height, ridge length and tip protrusion of 476 subjects who have ancestry in Africa, Asia, and Europe. According to Dr. Mark D. Shriver, Professor of Biological Anthropology, “We focused on nose traits that differ across populations and looked at geographical variation with respect to temperature and humidity.” His team concluded that the width of the nostrils and the base of the nose measurements differed across populations more than could be accounted for by “genetic drift” — indicating an act of natural selection in the evolution of human nose shapes.
Analyzed, it appears that wider noses are more common in warm and humid climates than narrower one, which are typically found in cold and dry environments. “Out of all the aspects of nose shape that we studied, only the width of the nose stands out as being more different across populations than expected by chance,” shares Arslan Zaidi, the study’s co-author, with The Daily Mail. “Most of the genetic and phenotypic variation among humans exists within populations, not between them.”