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. diners near me

    Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 17, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. petsmart near me


    June 17, 2021 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. wegmans near me

    I could not resist commenting. Very well written!


    June 17, 2021 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. laundry near me

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't fail me just as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, however I genuinely believed you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you can fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    June 17, 2021 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. work from home jobs near me

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!


    June 17, 2021 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. psychologist near me


    June 17, 2021 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. bank near me


    June 17, 2021 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. aaa near me

    May I simply say what a relief to find someone that really understands what they're discussing on the internet. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people must look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you're not more popular given that you surely possess the gift.


    June 17, 2021 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. gym near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the site is also very good.


    June 17, 2021 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. family dollar near me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?


    June 17, 2021 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. dsw near me

    This is the right website for anybody who wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has been written about for a long time. Great stuff, just great!


    June 17, 2021 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. walmart near me now

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Very well written!


    June 17, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. lịch vcs

    Trực Tiếp Bóng Đá Hôm Naytttv hdXem bóng đá trực tuyến Trực tiếp Odd BK vs Sarpsborg, 20h ngày 24/5, giải VĐQG Na Uy. Xem lịch phạt sóng thẳng đá bóng EURO ngày hôm nay được Webthethao update chủ yếu xác nhất.


    June 17, 2021 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. rapid results covid testing near me

    Hi there! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for the great info you have got right here on this post. I'll be coming back to your site for more soon.


    June 18, 2021 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. gyros near me

    There is certainly a lot to find out about this subject. I like all of the points you made.


    June 18, 2021 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. w88

    Xoilac Tv Thẳng Bóng Đá tcvn 104-07Đội tuyển chọn futsal Việt Nam đã được một trận đấu đồng ý được trước đối thủ cạnh tranh đầy sức mạnh Lebanon. Kết quả Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất nước ta.


    June 18, 2021 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. studio apartments near me


    June 18, 2021 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. same day covid testing near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!


    June 18, 2021 at 04:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. financial advisor near me

    May I just say what a comfort to discover someone who truly knows what they're discussing over the internet. You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people ought to check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren't more popular given that you certainly have the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 05:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. truck stops near me


    June 18, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. hertz near me


    June 18, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. winn dixie near me

    Iím impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog thatís both equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for something relating to this.


    June 18, 2021 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. dog shelters near me

    This is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 18, 2021 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. burger places near me


    June 18, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. auto shop near me


    June 18, 2021 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. mulch near me

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 18, 2021 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. escape room near me

    Excellent blog post. I absolutely appreciate this site. Stick with it!


    June 18, 2021 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. barber shop near me


    June 18, 2021 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. bongdatv online

    Trực Tiếp Soccer Việt Nam Vs Lebanon. Xem Truc Tiep Bong Da. Futsal Việt Namhtv2 onlineĐây có lẽ rằng là ngôi trường hợp “của đi thay nhân viên" khá may mắn đối cùng với Ben McLemore. Thiếu chút nữa tay ném của Los Angeles Lakers đã có thể gặp gỡ tai nạn nghiêm trọng. Cập nhật kết trái trận nước Việt Nam vs Lebanon nằm trong play-off vòng loại Futsal World Cup 2021.


    June 18, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. aldi near me


    June 18, 2021 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. theaters near me


    June 18, 2021 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. coffee shop near me

    Excellent article! We will be linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.


    June 18, 2021 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. foundation inspectors


    June 18, 2021 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Orange County California


    June 18, 2021 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Near Me

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    June 18, 2021 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that you need to publish more about this subject matter, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people don't speak about such issues. To the next! Many thanks!!


    June 18, 2021 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. the thao tv

    Tỷ Số Bóng Đá Trực Tuyến Hôm Naythi truong chuyen nhuong bong da anhTheo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania trong ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới cho futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon tuy nhiên sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi bên trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch tranh tài, quý khách có thể chuẩn bị xếp làm việc


    June 18, 2021 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. RV Repairs Near My Location

    Hi, I think your website could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, great website!


    June 18, 2021 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repair Shops Nearby


    June 18, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Shops Near My Location


    June 18, 2021 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Seal Beach

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes that produce the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 18, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    After going over a few of the articles on your site, I honestly like your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my website too and let me know how you feel.


    June 18, 2021 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Near My Location


    June 18, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Shop Near Me


    June 18, 2021 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. lichthidaubong dahomnay

    Trực Tiếp đá Bóng Ngày Hôm Nay, Link Coi Soccer Trực Tuyến 24hvtv11Theo thể thức thi đấu, đội thắng ở cặp đấu này sẽ giành tấm vé đến Lithuania trong ngày hội bóng đá lớn nhất thế giới cho futsal. Tuyển futsal Việt Nam bước vào trận play-off lượt đi tranh vé dự play-off World Cup 2021 với sự tự tin. Tuy vậy, HLV Phạm Minh Giang bày tỏ, toàn đội không ngán Lebanon song sẽ tìm cách để khắc chế sức mạnh của đối thủ bởi trên băng ghế huấn luyện là nhà cầm quân Ramiro Lopez, người từng dẫn dắt futsal Tây Ban Nha.|Dựa vào lịch thi đấu, quý khách hoàn toàn có thể sắp xếp việc làm


    June 18, 2021 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. equipment rental near me


    June 18, 2021 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Nearby RV Repair

    Your style is really unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.


    June 18, 2021 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Orange County


    June 18, 2021 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Nearest RV Repair

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and the rest of the website is really good.


    June 18, 2021 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 01:20 | 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

Post a comment


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.