Large Noses Can Be Blamed on Neanderthals

Medscape Staff

August 04, 2023

Certain genes responsible for increasing the length of your nose can be traced back to long-extinct Neanderthal cousins. according to researchers at University College London.

What to know:

  • The Neanderthal genome has been sequenced and shows that modern humans apparently interbred with Neanderthals, leaving us with little bits of their DNA, including the shape of our faces.

  • Cross-referencing this genetic information with images of study participants' faces helped identify 33 genome regions associated with face shape.

  • Comparing human and Neanderthal skulls makes it clear that Neanderthals had significantly taller noses, as evidenced by the distance between the where the top of the nose meets the brow (the nasion) and the groove between the nose and lips (the philtrum).

  • One gene in particular of ancient Neanderthals is known as the activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) gene and was found to have evolved owing to natural selection, making their noses large to help them cope with the cold Eurasian climate.

  • Neanderthals with longer noses may have had a higher chance of passing on their DNA.

This is a summary of the article "Automatic Landmarking Identifies New Loci Associated With Face Morphology and Implicates Neanderthal Introgression in Human Nasal Shape," published in Communications Biology on May 8, 2023. The full article can be found on

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