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Men Have Bigger Noses than Women Because on of Increased Muscle, Study Finds

Update Date: Nov 19, 2013 02:11 AM EST

Ever wondered why men's noses are larger than women's? Researchers learnt it's due to the fact men have more muscle, resulting in larger noses to breathe in more oxygen.

 A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa says that the different builds and energy demands of the two sexes are the reasons behind the difference in nose size. According to the researchers, men have larger noses because men in general possess greater lean muscle, which requires more oxygen for muscle tissue growth and maintenance. Larger noses mean more oxygen can be inhaled and transported to the muscles, the research suggests. 

"This relationship has been discussed in the literature, but this is the first study to examine how the size of the nose relates to body size in males and females in a longitudinal study," says Nathan Holton, assistant professor in the UI College of Dentistry and lead author of the paper, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

"We have shown that as body size increases in males and females during growth, males exhibit a disproportionate increase in nasal size. This follows the same pattern as energetic variables such as oxygenate consumption, basal metabolic rate and daily energy requirements during growth."

The new study also suggests a new understanding as to why Neanderthals had a big nose. Researchers suppose that our distant lineages had more muscle mass, and so needed larger noses to maintain that muscle; in contrast, modern humans have less lean muscle mass, meaning we can get by with smaller noses.

"So, in humans, the nose can become small, because our bodies have smaller oxygen requirements than we see in archaic humans," Holton said, adding that the rib cages and lungs are also smaller in modern humans, which supports the idea that we don't need as much oxygen to feed our frames as our ancestors. "This all tells us physiologically how modern humans have changed from their ancestors."

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