The human nose as a natural air conditioner

Homo sapiens noses are not as efficient at air conditioning since evolution

Japanese scientists from Kyoto University have found that human noses have evolved overtime to the detriment of natural air conditioning.

Takeshi Nishimura and a team of researchers have published a study in journal PLOS Computational Biology after carrying out extensive research to discover the effects of evolutionary facial anatomical changes in humans.

Homo noses have evolved since humans left Africa millions of years ago; we used to have noses similar to non-human primates (whose snout’s are longer and triangular and have a horizontal nasal vestibule). However, this changed over a very long period of time and humans now have a protruding nose with a vertical nasal vestibule.

Japan researches find human nose air conditioning is less efficient since evolution

Humans used to have noses like chimpanzees

The nose of any animal (humans included) functions as an air conditioner for the air that is inhaled, adjusting it to a temperature that is not harmful to the “mucosal tissues in the respiratory system”, says Nishimura in his report.

Nishimura undertook multiple experiments on the nasal passages of macaques, chimpanzees and humans. He and his team found that the air conditioning function in non-human primate noses is more efficient than in humans (especially in extreme temperatures and humidity) and that the external element of a human nose performs no function in the air conditioning process.

“Human evolution is often regarded as the evolution of adaptive traits, but our study highlights the importance of compensating evolution as well as adaptive evolution”, says Nishimura.

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