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Why men have bigger noses than women

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Big noses

Men have bigger noses than women. Have you ever wondered if there is a reason for the difference?


While many people believe that men’s noses are bigger than women’s noses, a new study from researchers at the University of Iowa has confirmed it.

The researchers found that, on average, the size of men’s noses are 10 percent larger than women’s noses because men have to breathe in more oxygen in order to retain their larger muscle mass.

For the study, the research team examined differences in nose size between the sexes in European communities. According to their study, published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the reason men have bigger noses than their female counterparts is due to gender differences in body build and how much energy their bodies need as a result.

Generally speaking, male bodies have more lean muscle mass than female bodies; thus, men require more oxygen to promote and maintain muscle growth. Accordingly, the study suggests that men have bigger noses because they need to inhale more oxygen into the body, where the oxygen is then circulated through the blood before reaching the muscle.

The researchers findings came after the team studied the size and growth of noses on 38 European people who participated in the Iowa Facial Growth Study from the time they were age 3 to their middle 20s.

The long-term study required that each participant have their nose measured, both on the inside and outside, at regular intervals over the years.

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As a result, the study found that from the time of birth until the beginning of puberty, males and females have the same size of nose. When they reach the age of 11, however, differences in nose size between the sexes start to emerge, resulting in males having a larger nose size by 10 percent on average than females.

It doesn’t matter whether the males and females have the same size of body either. According to the lead study author, Nathan Holton, even when body size is identical between males and females, the males still have bigger noses once they reach puberty.

Male faces are also larger, and that starts as soon as age 3 or earlier, which indicates a link between the size of the face and the size of the nose. Regardless, Holton says that nose size appears to be influenced by how much oxygen the body needs and body mass.

Another finding of the study is that people today have smaller noses than their Neanderthal ancestors. The researchers say that this has to do with our ancestors having increased muscle mass, so they required larger noses for sustaining the extra muscle mass they had.

Today’s humans don’t have as much muscle mass, so they no longer need the big noses of their archaic ancestors. Human beings today also have smaller rib cages and lungs than their relatives from the Neanderthal age because the no longer require the increased amount of oxygen that their ancestors did.

According to Holton, this is how modern humans have adapted physiologically, as our bodies today don’t have the same oxygen requirements as “archaic humans” did.

Holton also adds that while the study analyzed the noses of Europeans, the conclusions drawn would be the same for people across all cultures and races. That's because gender differences in body size still exist, but have evolved and changed as a result of differing oxygen needs.

SOURCE: Ontogenetic scaling of the human nose in a longitudinal sample: Implications for genus Homo facial evolution, DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22402, Nathan E. Holton, Todd R. Yokley, Andrew W. Froehle, Thomas E. Southard, published in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 31 October 2013.



Bahahaha! I want to know now why Armenians have really large noses!