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Evolution of Human Proboscis: Nose Shape Influenced by Local Climate, say Researchers

Wider noses were more common in people from warm and humid climates, they found. Narrower noses were more common in those from cold and dry climates

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FILE - The March 20, 2009, file photo shows the prehistoric Neanderthal man "N," left, as he is visited for the first time by another reconstruction of a homo neanderthalensis called "Wilma," right, at the Neanderthal museum in Mettmann, Germany. Researchers say temperature and humidity may have played a key role in determining the nose's shape. VOA
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Washington, March 19, 2017: The human nose, in all its glorious forms, is one of our most distinctive characteristics, whether big, little, broad, narrow or somewhere in between.

Scientists are now sniffing out some of the factors that drove the evolution of the human proboscis.

Researchers said on Thursday a study using three-dimensional images of hundreds of people of East Asian, South Asian, West African and Northern European ancestry indicated local climate, specifically temperature and humidity, played a key role in determining the nose’s shape.

Wider noses were more common in people from warm and humid climates, they found. Narrower noses were more common in those from cold and dry climates.

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The nose’s primary functions are breathing and smelling. It has mucous and blood capillaries inside that help warm and humidify inhaled air before it reaches more sensitive parts of the respiratory tract.

Having narrower nasal airways might help increase contact between inhaled air and tissues inside the nose carrying moisture and heat, said Penn State University geneticist Arslan Zaidi, lead author of the study published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

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“This might have offered an advantage in colder climates. In warmer climates, the flip side was probably true,” Zaidi said.

Our species appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago and later migrated to other parts of the world. The researchers said people with narrower nostrils may have done better and produced more offspring than those with wider nostrils in colder, drier locales, driving a gradual decline in nose width.

The finding generally supports what’s called Thomson’s rule, formulated by British anatomist and anthropologist Arthur Thomson (1858-1935), that people from cold, dry climates tend to have longer and thinner noses than people from warm, humid climates.

Zaidi said most previous evidence regarding Thomson’s rule came from skull measurements, while this study expanded on that by analyzing external nose shape.

The researchers studied nose width, nostril width, nose height, length of the nose ridge, nose tip protrusion, external surface area and total nostril area.

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“What we have tested is a very simple hypothesis about the nose, which likely had a very complex evolutionary history. There’s a lot we don’t know,” Zaidi said, citing the need to probe genes underlying nose shape.

“One can imagine how cultural differences in attractiveness could have led to some of the differences in nose shape between populations. For example, were wider noses considered more attractive in some populations relative to others?” (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons
Google Along with Other SSocial Media Giants will Face The Lawmakers, Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?