Why our noses are different shapes
Left: The nasal bone structure of a person of African origin. Right: Nose of a person of European origin.
March 20th, 2013
12:06 PM ET

Why our noses are different shapes

There are pouches on each side of the human nose below the eyes that are called maxillary sinuses. They're involved in sinus infections, so you may already have a bias against them.

But Nathan Holton, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of orthodontics at the University of Iowa, wanted to find out why there's such variation in these structures, and how they are affected by variation in the nasal cavity. A study on the subject is published in the journal The Anatomical Record.

Holton and colleagues took computed tomography scans of 40 people. About half of them were European-Americans, and the other half were African-Americans or native South Africans.

They found that the bigger the volume of the nasal cavity, the bigger the maxillary sinuses, in both populations. This is also associated with the overall face size, the researchers said, and suggests that the maxillary sinuses play a role in allowing the nose shape to vary. It appears that the sinuses make room for the nose.

But when the face size is about the same, maxillary sinuses tended to be 36% larger in people of European ancestry than of African ancestry because Europeans tend to have narrower nose shapes.

The various shapes of noses appear to be tied to adaptations to climate, Holton said. The nose must properly heat and humidify the air that you breathe. In a cold climate, it's advantageous to have a narrower nose. That's so that when a person inhales, more air comes into contact with the mucosal surface of nose, which provides moisture. The narrow nose maximizes the surface area.

"The fact that we have sinuses seems to allow for this accommodation of variation in nasal shape, which seems to be important, in evolutionary terms, with regard to climatic adaptation," Holton said.

The maxillary sinuses probably do not serve an important purpose in terms of nasal respiratory function, he said.

soundoff (1,756 Responses)
  1. truck shop orange

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!


    May 27, 2021 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Dent Repair Riverside


    May 27, 2021 at 05:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. oc trailers & rvs inc


    May 27, 2021 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tritreviewifind

    tadalafil daily online https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ – tadalafil cost walmart lowest price cialis cost tadalafil generic https://tadalafilww.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. roof repair temecula


    May 27, 2021 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Internet Marketing Firm

    Your style is very unique compared to other people I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this web site.


    May 27, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Interior Remodeling Near Me

    Excellent blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 27, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Digital Marketing Agency

    Hi! I could have sworn Iíve visited this blog before but after looking at some of the articles I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly happy I discovered it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    May 27, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Roof Los Angeles


    May 27, 2021 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Forklift Maintenance Shop


    May 27, 2021 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. body shop orange ca


    May 27, 2021 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Renovation Near Me

    I seriously love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my own personal blog and would like to learn where you got this from or what the theme is named. Kudos!


    May 27, 2021 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. reupholstery orange county

    bookmarked!!, I like your web site!


    May 27, 2021 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. mcd shades repair


    May 27, 2021 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Flooring Riverside

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you should publish more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people don't talk about such issues. To the next! All the best!!


    May 27, 2021 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Forklift Rental Near Me

    This is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 27, 2021 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Soosteemocush

    prescription tadalafil online https://tadagatadalafil.com/ – tadalafil online buy tadalis lowest price cialis https://tadalafilww.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. trailer service and repair near me

    I blog frequently and I genuinely appreciate your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.


    May 27, 2021 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. EncoxGtv

    concerta canada pharmacy 15 rx pharmacy san antonio canadian pharmacy asthma inhalers

    May 27, 2021 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Forklifts Orange County

    Howdy! This post could not be written any better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I'll forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!


    May 27, 2021 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Julene Isagba

    Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this post to him. Pretty sure he's going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


    May 27, 2021 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. blue sky rv insurance reviews

    You've made some good points there. I looked on the web for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    May 27, 2021 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. car sound system repair near me

    I was able to find good info from your blog posts.


    May 28, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Mattresses Near Me


    May 28, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Blinds Riverside


    May 28, 2021 at 02:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. trailer parts and repair near me

    Wonderful article! We are linking to this great post on our site. Keep up the good writing.


    May 28, 2021 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. box truck repair


    May 28, 2021 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. trailer repair shop near me

    This excellent website really has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 28, 2021 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Entertainment System Los Angeles

    Hello there, I do believe your blog may be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent website!


    May 28, 2021 at 03:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Countertops Los Angeles

    bookmarked!!, I love your blog!


    May 28, 2021 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Olen Kuszlyk

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs


    May 28, 2021 at 04:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Solar Panels Systems Orange County


    May 28, 2021 at 05:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. rv furniture companies


    May 28, 2021 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Tires California

    Excellent blog you've got here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 28, 2021 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Content Marketing Business

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site. I am hoping to view the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own site now 😉


    May 28, 2021 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Google Marketing Specialists

    I really love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own blog and want to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Cheers!


    May 28, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. paint repair shops near me


    May 28, 2021 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. ZisseVed

    how much is cialis in canada https://krocialis.com/ – does 20mg cialis work standard cialis dose

    May 28, 2021 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Driver Seats California


    May 28, 2021 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. orange county truck service

    Great information. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have book marked it for later!


    May 28, 2021 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. EncoxDev

    legit non prescription pharmacies restore rx pharmacy trusted online pharmacy reviews

    May 28, 2021 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. rv fiberglass repair panels


    May 28, 2021 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. rv repair near here


    May 28, 2021 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Awning Near Me

    Very good information. Lucky me I ran across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I've saved as a favorite for later!


    May 28, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Flooring Orange County

    Good information. Lucky me I came across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!


    May 28, 2021 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. orange county rv dealers


    May 28, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Sprinter Repair Codes

    Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I will send this information to him. Fairly certain he'll have a great read. Thank you for sharing!


    May 28, 2021 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. ambulance repair

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the information!


    May 28, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. tow truck repair shop

    After looking into a few of the articles on your web page, I truly like your way of blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my web site too and let me know how you feel.


    May 28, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Kitchen Near Me

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't fail me as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, but I really believed you'd have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you can fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.


    May 28, 2021 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

Leave a Reply to Clint Johndrow


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.