The incredible truth about the human nose

The incredible truth about the human nose

A new study finds that the nose has a lot of features we may not appreciate.

As we reported recently, an incredible new study may provide insight into the shape of the human nose — but there’s a lot more to our nose than you probably realize.

The study found that nose shapes can vary quite widely depending on the individual, having a great variety of shapes, both in terms of size and in terms of shape, according to a statement from University College London. Scientists surmise that it’s not just an aesthetic feature — our noses may have evoled a lot to fit different environemnts. For example, Europeans may have thinner noses to deal with a colder and drier environment.

But recent research indicates that there’s a lot more to the human nose. A study from late last year found that a bioelectronic nose that mimics the human nose is capable of deteting bacteria in water just by smelling it.

The sensor is capable of detecting not only bacteria but other microbes in water. It indicates that technology that mimics the human nose can detect even small amounts of flavor from contaminated water, according to an Elsevier statement.

A smelling device could be used in the smell industry, and it may have medical implications as well, as some patients with diseases like lung cancer give off certain smells. Studies have shown that dogs can detect such diseases. It could lead to the creation of a smell classification system.

But in the meantime, this latest discovery could help scientists understand the very root genetics of the human nose, and could lead to further medical breakthroughs.

“Few studies have looked at how normal facial features develop and those that have only looked at European populations, which show less diversity than the group we studied,” the first author of the report, Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari, UCL Cell & Developmental Biology, said in the statement. “What we’ve found are specific genes which influence the shape and size of individual features, which hasn’t been seen before. Finding out the role each gene plays helps us to piece together the evolutionary path from Neanderthal to modern humans. It brings us closer to understanding how genes influence the way we look, which is important for forensics applications.”

Added Professor Andrés Ruiz-Linares UCL Biosciences, who led the study: “It has long been speculated that the shape of the nose reflects the environment in which humans evolved. For example, the comparatively narrower nose of Europeans has been proposed to represent an adaptation to a cold, dry climate. Identifying genes affecting nose shape provides us with new tools to examine this question, as well as the evolution of the face in other species. It may also help us understand what goes wrong in genetic disorders involving facial abnormalities.”

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