Date:

Study finds that nose shape gene is inherited from Neanderthals

A recent study led by UCL researchers has discovered that Neanderthal genetic material inherited by humans has an impact on the shape of our noses.

According to a study published in Communications Biology, a specific gene that results in a taller nose (measured from top to bottom) might have undergone natural selection as early humans adapted to colder environments after migrating out of Africa.

- Advertisement -

Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari, co-corresponding author of the study from UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment and The Open University, stated that since the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome 15 years ago, it has been discovered that our ancestors interbred with them, resulting in small fragments of their DNA present in our genome.

“Here, we find that some DNA inherited from Neanderthals influences the shape of our faces. This could have been helpful to our ancestors, as it has been passed down for thousands of generations,” said Dr Adhikari.

For the study, data from over 6,000 volunteers with mixed European, Native American, and African ancestry in Latin American countries – including Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru, were gathered by the UCL-led CANDELA study.

The team utilised photographs of the participants’ faces, focusing on the distances between specific points such as the tip of the nose or the edge of the lips, to investigate the correlation between various facial features and the presence of distinct genetic markers.

- Advertisement -

The researchers newly identified 33 genome regions associated with face shape, 26 of which they were able to replicate in comparisons with data from other ethnicities using participants in east Asia, Europe, or Africa.

The scientists observed that a specific genome region, known as ATF3, exhibited an interesting pattern. Individuals with Native American ancestry, as well as those with East Asian ancestry from another study, possessed genetic material in this gene inherited from Neanderthals, which led to a higher nasal height. Moreover, the gene region displayed signs of natural selection, indicating that it conferred an advantage to individuals carrying this genetic material.

First author Dr Qing Li (Fudan University) said: “It has long been speculated that the shape of our noses is determined by natural selection; as our noses can help us to regulate the temperature and humidity of the air we breathe in, different shaped noses may be better suited to different climates that our ancestors lived in. The gene we have identified here may have been inherited from Neanderthals to help humans adapt to colder climates as our ancestors moved out of Africa.”

Co-corresponding author Professor Andres Ruiz-Linares (Fudan University, UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment, and Aix-Marseille University) added: “Most genetic studies of human diversity have investigated the genes of Europeans; our study’s diverse sample of Latin American participants broadens the reach of genetic study findings, helping us to better understand the genetics of all humans.”

University College London

Header Image Credit : Dr Kaustubh Adhikari, UCL

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill

Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

BU archaeologists uncover Iron Age victim of human sacrifice

Archaeologists from Bournemouth University have uncovered an Iron Age victim of human sacrifice in Dorset, England.

Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions

Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Archaeologists find missing head of Deva from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom

Archaeologists from Cambodia’s national heritage authority (APSARA) have discovered the long-lost missing head of a Deva statue from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom.

Archaeologists search crash site of WWII B-17 for lost pilot

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology are excavating the crash site of a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress in an English woodland.

Roman Era tomb found guarded by carved bull heads

Archaeologists excavating at the ancient Tharsa necropolis have uncovered a Roman Era tomb guarded by two carved bull heads.