There is no doubt that your nose is an inheritance from your parents but the shape it takes is attributed to the adaptation that your ancestors undertook courtesy of the local climate. This suggestion is as a result of a study published in the journal PLOS Genetics.
Different groups of people have different types of noses and if you do a cross-ethnic comparison, you will appreciate that some differences are borrowed. For instance, people of East Asian, South Asian and West Africa ancestry have a variation in the distance within the nasal alare (wings of the nose).
That makes it understandable that people believe that humans are distinct and have lived in seclusion for quite a long time, says Mark D. Shriver, lead author of the study and a professor of anthropology at Penn State University. But then, he adds, humans have always been splitting and reuniting, making separate origin a false assumption.
Some experts tend to explain differences between various groups from the genetic point of view. However, the nose seems to disagree with that. The nose’s surface, the appearance of people in different populations is much greater than what the genetic differences show on average,” says Shiver.
How the study was done
Shiver and his group sought to find answers to what makes the shape of the nose to differ across population groups.
They used a database of 10,000 people and selected 2,637 as the sample population. Four populations were used for this study – West Africans, East Asians, South Asians and North Europeans.
The researchers looked at the 3D photos of each study participant, with the nose being their point of focus. They measured the nostrils width, height, nose protrusion, nose ridge length and area of the nostrils.
Each person’s nose was imaged using a number of cameras from a variety of angles and then used to derive the shape of a face as a point cloud.
The obtained data was submitted to complex analysis which led to the understanding that nose measurements were different in each population and that genetic drift could not account for most of the differences.
Genetic drift is a term used to describe a situation where some people leave behind more descendants than others – not because they are healthier but it’s by chance. Both genetic drift and natural selection (adaption to the environment) have a primary role in the evolution of human nose.
Local Climate changed your nose shape
The researchers wanted to know how the local climate affected the differences in your nose shape and thus studied the distribution of nasal traits in relation to local temperatures and humidity.
Their finding was that the nostril’s width could be associated with the temperature and absolute humidity.
And there you have it folks, your nose is the way it is not entirely because of genetic changes but also due to the climate your ancestors lived in.