The nose form gene was inherited from Neanderthals.

According to the findings of a new study that was carried out under the direction of researchers at UCL, we have inherited genetic material from Neanderthals that has an effect on the shape of our noses.

The new Interchanges Science investigation discovers that a specific quality, which prompts a taller nose (start to finish), may have been the result of regular determination as old people adjusted to colder environments subsequent to leaving Africa.

“In the last 15 years, since the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced, we have been able to learn that our own ancestors apparently interbred with Neanderthals, leaving us with little bits of their DNA,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari (UCL Genetics, Evolution, and Environment and The Open University).

“We have discovered that our own ancestors reportedly interbred with Neanderthals, leaving us with trace amounts of their DNA, in the last 15 years since the Neanderthal genome has been sequenced.”

Author Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari 

“Here, we find that some DNA acquired from Neanderthals impacts the state of our countenances.” “This has been passed down through thousands of generations, so it could have been useful to our ancestors.”

The UCL-led CANDELA study, which recruited from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru, used data from over 6,000 volunteers across Latin America who were of mixed European, Native American, and African ancestry. To see how various facial characteristics were associated with the presence of various genetic markers, the researchers compared genetic information from the participants to photographs of their faces, specifically looking at distances between points on their faces like the tip of the nose or the edge of the lips.

In comparisons with data from other ethnicities using participants from east Asia, Europe, or Africa, the researchers were able to replicate 26 of the newly discovered 33 genome regions associated with face shape.

In one genome locale specifically, called ATF3, the scientists tracked down that many individuals in their review with local American families (as well as others with east Asian heritage from another companion) had hereditary material in this quality that was acquired from the Neanderthals, adding to the expanded nasal level. They also found evidence of natural selection in this gene region, which suggests that it gave those with the genetic material an advantage.

“It has long been speculated that the shape of our noses is determined by natural selection,” stated Dr. Qing Li, the paper’s first author from Fudan University. Since our noses help us control the temperature and humidity of the air we breathe, different nose shapes may have been more suitable for the climates our ancestors lived in. It’s possible that the gene we found here was passed down from Neanderthals to help humans adjust to colder climates as our ancestors left Africa.

“Most genetic studies of human diversity have investigated the genes of Europeans,” the co-corresponding author, Professor Andres Ruiz-Linares, of Fudan University, UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment, and Aix-Marseille University, said. The wide range of Latin American participants in our study helps us comprehend the genetics of all humans and broadens the application of genetic research findings.

This is the second instance in which DNA from prehistoric humans, distinct from Homo sapiens, has been found to influence our face shape. In a paper published in 2021, the same team discovered that Denisovans inherited a gene that affects lip shape.

Researchers from the United Kingdom, China, France, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, and Brazil were involved in the study.

More information: Automatic landmarking identifies new loci associated with face morphology and implicates Neanderthal introgression in human nasal shape, Communications Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-023-04838-7

Topic : Article