Why do Africans have large noses and lips?
July 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm #11530LuisParticipant
I was wondering about this question !
I’m studying an Introduction to Human Biology and Nature, and this question pops out from our teacher.
So, do you agree on what i found?
First off, it’s a generalization. Not all Africans have large noses and lips. Characteristic facial feature vary from region to region in Africa. In West and South and some parts of Central Africa, those characteristics you stated are what the majority of the Africans look like. But most East Africans, North Africans, and some Central Africans have thin noses, normal – thin lips and usually have curly hair and can have straight/wavy hair. It’s not because of mixing with non-Africans, it’s because Africans are a diverse people. In fact, Africans are the most diverse ethnic group, according to researchers and scientists.
In fact, many Africans, especially East Africans, tend to marry and have children with people within their country, so that their genes are concentrated. This is proved through genetics tests. The oldest fossils in the world are found in East Africa, mainly Ethiopia, which suggests that the human race began there. According to many evolution theories, as the human community grew, some migrated to other regions in Africa, to Asia and to Europe. The physical characteristics of these races are a result of mutations and climate adaption after migration. An example is white skin which was a mutation that aided the humans living in colder regions, so that their skin could absorb more vitamin D into their bodies from the sun.
As to the large noses and lips of some Africans, I’m not really sure what purpose they served as East Africans living in the same climate do not typically have these features. But there is differences in every group. It’s more due to genes being kept within a gene pool (or community) because there are no new dominant genes to override these genes. Also, no one died from having these characteristics as they did not hinder their survival.
July 4, 2009 at 3:37 am #91749koleanParticipant
Maybe not necessarily big noses, but big nostrils. Bigger nostrils to breath more air in. You would need to breath more air if it contained less oxygen as it might have way back at the beginning of the neanderthal man. And like you stated, perhaps this dominant gene stayed within the gene pool for many generations. And the bigger the nose, the better the procreation partner to have in this culture, keeping the gene pool very dominant.
Lips are interesting to theorize why an extra thickness of muscle would be needed to be a dominant trait of this sequestered gene pool. Somehow getting the food into the mouth would be helpful as the lips can draw it in, and then shut the mouth to keep the food from falling out as it is eaten. Several different cultures even have plates that they put in their mouths to stretch out the lips. Perhaps this is a ritual from way back then.
Just speculating here.
July 19, 2009 at 8:10 am #92013versusParticipant
I woud say that nostrils of Africans aren’t big. They are normal. because they don’t need to warm up the air they breathe. And the size of the nostrils in colder places (in the north) got smaller to ensure air wormup before delivering to the lungs.
Lips may have something related to nostrils.
But also its possible that lips are usefull for eating. coz in animlas well developed lips are common in plant eating animals. And in the north people were eating a lot of meat durin previos 10.000 years.
July 20, 2009 at 12:32 am #92024Jasper903Participant
I agree with versus. I think it may be temperature/climate based. Colder climates could possibly result in narrower facial features.
July 24, 2009 at 8:21 am #92124dawntomornParticipant
They also actually have the right complexion to protect them from skin cancer. With their noses and lips, it is genetics and may be affected by their adaption of their environment.
August 12, 2009 at 7:30 pm #92458NurseBellaParticipant
I wonder then, why do Italians have big noses? Or even, Why do JEws and Aficans share some feature traits?
November 15, 2009 at 6:46 am #94894robpdxParticipant
You know, this bugs me. And please understand these two things: (1) I know that I am going off on a tangent other than the medical/biological topic at hand and (2) I am not a "racist", or "angry" person of color. However, why doesn’t the title on this heading say… "why do non-Africans have small noses and lips"? You know, to put it this way, it is almost to imply that African’s are the ones that are different, or are not the norm. What type of thinking is this? Really now, who is it that is different enough that they need to be compared to some theoretical standard. Was it the egg or the chicken first? Why is it that rich (and not so rich) people that are not of color pay for COLLAGEN injections in their lips?!? I know that this is a different issue than the subject at hand, but I just had to speak up on this for a moment. People, stop, and *think* about your THINKING! Sorry.
November 15, 2009 at 4:54 pm #94910canalonParticipant
Just to add to the above quite right rant that:
– Arabs are North African, and are not black nor do they have large nose and lips
– Even black African people do have quite a variety of different skin colors and facial feature, and not all of them do have large nose and lips.
– As has been pointed above large nose and lips are not limited to African people (see Australian aboriginals, and people from Melanasia for example)
So the question is even more poorly worded than the above poster noted. The question should be why some ethnic groups tend to have larger nostrils and lips than other?
And any answer should mix potential evolutionary advantages of those traits to at least some sexual selection. And be highly speculative in any way.
January 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm #103030
It is dangerous to refer to the physical features of any race as "normal". That is the same attitude which lead to the genocide in Rwanda.
January 6, 2011 at 2:17 am #103032
True creationists have all the proof they need to die for their cause.
January 6, 2011 at 3:53 am #103039
Its interesting that we keep using changes in the phenotype to describe differences in Genotype. how is it possible that a different species could give us a genetic trate? If this is true, you are saying that people with wider noses and lips are less evolved than people with thinner lips and noses. Though I won’t say that it is impossible to amalgamate two different species, I will say that those traits, if they existed wouldnt be an advantage. Every generation in the human gene pool posesses 200 new mutations that were not present in that of their parents. How many of those mutations will be positive? Humans are not evolving, we are devolving.
July 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm #105528rswilsParticipant
robpdx’s comments are valid. I do agree that the thread title could be re-thought.
However I think that the reason why there are differences in facial and bodily features between races is that we are NOT all the same. This isn’t meant to be racist or "shocking", but I believe that some human races have evolved earlier or differently than others. Just like the animal kingdom we have eagles and humming birds – Baboons and chimpanzee’s – whales and minnows. I don’t think it’s so hard to understand why we have different features, our environments have a lot to do with it as well. Most Nordic’s have blond hair and are fair skinned, Mediterranean’s have darker features. I’m a white male and I honestly don’t think one races features are better or more attractive than an others. I see just as much beauty in someone who looks like Rachel Welsh as I do in Beyoncé – or a blonde haired, blue eyes girl from Sweden as I do a black haired, black eyed woman from Uganda.
July 22, 2011 at 3:35 am #105675ShelleyParticipant
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December 16, 2011 at 8:26 am #108763crazy4y0ux0x0Participant
This is ridiculous. Not all Africans have large noses and lips the same as all whites don’t have small noses and lips. We all have different traits. Africans are some of the most diverse people in the world. The range from a multitude of skin colors and have different hair textures and eye colors. Some Africans even have dark skin yellow blond kinky hair and blue eyes. It is just the way genetics work. Focusing on our differences breeds racism. As a human race we need to focus more on our similarities and leave the vanity behind.
December 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm #108774canalonParticipantquote crazy4y0ux0x0:
True, and maybe worth repeating. But why resurect such an absurd and stupid thread?
May 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm #111139JobeParticipant
I came across this forum while researching nose sizes. Large "honkers" seem to run in my family on my father’s side so I got curious.
First, Africans/blacks do not have "large" noses but rather "broad" noses with extra nostril skin. The same may apply to lip thickness. I went through a curious adolescence. For awhile there, my lip thickness increased then as the rest of my body caught up, they thinned out. So lip thickness may have more to do with skull development and teeth placement. I also have broad nostrils. But upon examination, it seems I have the nostril skin to accommodate a "large" nose but my nose’s bone structure did not need it. So there are two elements involved here. The skin amount to accommodate the bone structure and the bone structure itself.
Secondly, ethnic groups that I have noticed have "large" noses are:
Jews, Italians, some middle easterners, some French and curiously enough…Native Americans.
Chelsea Peretti (Italin-Jew)http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7a/Chelsea_Peretti.jpg/300px-Chelsea_Peretti.jpg
With a spectrum that broad it’s hard to say where the "large" nose originates or why.
June 3, 2012 at 4:20 am #111434fellaParticipant
it rascist to say black poeple have big lips and noses. it rascist to say they have blak skin. it you sort cuases genoside. hater.
June 7, 2012 at 1:55 pm #111491JorgeLoboParticipant
This is a scientific forum – so suggest folks avoid the politically-correct responses including calls of racism. The question should be why the original poster thinks the statement to be true – and an unreferenced subjective discussion from 1880 is not evidence.
July 2, 2012 at 9:45 pm #111753vbrownParticipant
One of my student asked me this question and I was unable to answer. But after reading all the comments, especially robpdx’s, my personal theory, which I elaborated about English people vs. French people’s lips, is that language seems to have an effect on lips size. A lot of English people have very thin lips, especially compared to the French. If you watch a french person speak french, you can see that their lips move a lot more than an english speaker’s lips would. To speak french properly you need to articulate a lot more than in english, thus you use more muscles.
Maybe this could explain why some african people have larger lips and some don’t. Maybe their language needs to be very articulated. Could be worth looking into!
July 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm #111780david23Participantquote vbrown:
Dont you think your cause-effects is a little convoluted. The language comes later so people with certain lip shapes should already be there before they invented the language. You can always attribute people’s looks in a population to a possible etiology of founder effect, migration and basically gene drift. You dont always have to go the people just "evolved" that way. In order for people to "evolve" that way you need a strong pressure to do so. You know how that works right
September 5, 2012 at 6:22 pm #112239ihatestupidityParticipant
by theewtgy » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:15 pm
"It is dangerous to refer to the physical features of any race as "normal". That is the same attitude which lead to the genocide in Rwanda."
that was pure stupidity.. the rwandan genocide didnt happen over looks.. it happened because the president(a tutsi) was assassinated when his plane was shot down, sooooo the tutsi’s went ape scheiss.. and killed off a lil over 800,000 hutu’s. without finding out who actually shot the plane down, on a side note the better question would be "why are african americans overly aggressive, and why are they allowed to be racist. yet complain about racism?"
October 8, 2012 at 11:57 am #112635JackBeanParticipantquote robpdx:
but then you’re saying that the Africans are normal and the non-Africans are different, don’t you? To avoid this you’ve had to ask "Why have different people different noses and lips?"
Anyway, the reason why this is probably put as it is, is probably that we have more races – Caucasians, Africans, Asians. So, if you think (which doesn’t mean it’s true as was shown in this topic), that one of them differs, you will probably ask, why this one differs, because they are minority and not ask, why the other differ, if there is more of them.
October 25, 2012 at 5:56 am #112774miker00lzParticipantquote robpdx:
You are reading way too much into this. I understand your point and where you’re coming from, but I would ask the question the exact same way. Not because I think black people are not "normal" or they’re inferior or anything of that sort. It’s because for me, and probably the thread starter, where I live people of African descent are a clear minority. So these facial features, at least where I am, are not common.
Also, not all Africans have these features, and from what I understand in some areas of Africa it’s very common, and in other areas it isn’t. I live in the US, and most black people in this part of the world do tend to have wider noses. If I lived in Africa, i would probably ask the question "Why do non-Africans have small noses and lips?" just because it’s not what I’d be used to seeing.
You are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Please think a little bit more before starting an argument like this. Again though, I DO understand where you’re coming from and can see why it might annoy you but you seem to make the assumption that most people are racist against Africans and you’re being overly defensive.
Wow, did this thread get hijacked. (Not that my post is helping, but that ship has already sailed.)
October 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm #112786SHFParticipantquote Luis:
3 years and 23 replies….perhaps it is time to point out that vitamin D doesn’t come from the sun! (nor does our supply of vitamin D arrive transdermally)
November 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm #112935RiynParticipant
Hey SHF, you’re so right. The sun is only a catalyst in releasing Vitamin-D that is already in the body from food stuff. If i remember correctly (not attached) The stuff the turns into Vitamin-D just requires a certain amount of radiation to go through synthesis in the body.
Traveling to colder regions requires more warmth and shelter therefore limited amount of sun-time and less intense shore daylight. The body must adapt to keep the processes effective and keep you alive. I’m guessing as well fairer skin reflects light better therefore keep heat in.
November 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm #112962AntreasParticipant
I think the skin color difference is largely solved issue (UV, D-vitamin, melanin etc). There are respectable new studies including those of Nina Jablonski. There is rather good correlation between UV (UVA,UVB and UVC) high radiation and dark skin color.
However hair and facial differences are interesting issues too. Haven’t red much about these issues but there must also be climate (dry, humid…), environment (forest, mountain, desert, hunting, fishing obtions etc) playing certain kind of role.
Diversity among Africans is actually much larger than among Asians, Europeans and Native Americans because those who left Africa were most of the time with relatively small groups and very isolated compared to those who stayed in Africa.
January 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm #113320jelpmacParticipant
rswils:Not about beauty? Attractive mates exist in all cultures. Question was, what survival use necessitated large, broad noses, thick lips for only some tribes of Africa, Melasia, Alaskan Eskimos, Siberian Mongol, some Australian aborigines? All scattered across one half of the world. What common factors forged the similar change. Maybe jungle/desert/frozen habits are quite similar and food/water sources, oxygen requirements or enhanced scent tracking forced the mutation.
January 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm #113335Jai2sriramParticipantquote versus:
January 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm #113379dillonkdParticipant
The title of this topic is just down right, sad. Amazing the title could not have read "why do some ethnicities have larger noses and lips, then others?" News Flash, every ethnicity has a share of large noses and lips it simply depends on the genes that run within that family line. Wow, education 1:1!
December 8, 2013 at 12:45 am #114833dddxParticipant
This topic was meant for scientific responses… All the people screaming racist need to go back to their own life.
March 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm #115171annelandParticipant
I don’t know the answer to this specific question, but we do know some things about how genes are linked on DNA. Sometimes a trait that is helpful for survival is very closely associated with another trait on the DNA strand. So when natural selection keeps trait A in the gene pool as advantageous, trait B is also preserved. Trait B may confer no advantage, but it gets "carried along." I seem to remember reading something about this and that thick, lustrous hair in Asian women was somehow linked to smaller breasts. (I did not look that up. May be remembering wrong.)
July 28, 2014 at 12:52 am #115333shannatParticipant
I did a short experiment with some Afro Caribbean friends, the first test was for 3 participants to pinch their noses slightly to create slightly narrow nostrils, the other 3 participants were the control and did not have to do anything. The IV was pinching nostrils, the DV was the type of sound that was produced by both conditions. Both conditions were given a 50 word paragraph to read out aloud and the voices were recorded. The second test was a semi structured interview in which 2 participants, had to pinch their noses for 2 minutes and were interviewed to discuss the way they felt after. (FYI I did not have any experimental devices to gauge sound or measure air intake) The results for the first test, the experimental condition was voices changed dramatically and sounded more nauseated (sounded like when one has a blocked nose or has a cold) while the control did not change. For the second test, during the semi structured interview, participants confirmed that their nasal airway was restricted and breathing from the nose was harder and rather uncomfortable, that they were forced to breath through their mouth. From this short experiment we can deduce that narrowing nostrils means restricted airway passage thus limited breathing and limited O2 intake for black people. I think a more in depth and better equipped study is needed to show on how much air is been taken in an out by people with different nostril sizes and if there any differences and is this has any effect on physiology.
October 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm #115518RonniMeyersParticipant
For nose smaller with out surgical try nose right tool works best, its a tool that reshapes your nose originally developed for trauma patients. Yep the only thing to make your nose smaller is the Nose Right tool
December 29, 2014 at 2:07 am #115600kristi2374Participant
Found this at ScienceLet:
Disclaimer to begin with. There is nothing racist about this post or the topic. Of course not all Africans have large lips and not all Americans have small lips and of course large and small are relative.
The question that is being addressed is, how come most Africans have larger lips and a wider nose compared to, lets say Americans.
In general, this pattern can be observed across the planet with the size of lips and nose decreasing as we move away from the equator towards the poles. So what could the reason be?
(Average) Lips and Nose across different races
Given the pattern, it is an easy guess that the size of lips and nose has got something to do with the climatic conditions and that humans have evolved to fit into their world. The reasoning goes as follows.
Lips: For someone living in hot climatic conditions, cooling down the body is critical for their survival. Our body has many cooling mechanisms and one of them is simply disseminating heat when it comes in contact with colder air (simple thermodynamics). This however requires larger surface area so that more heat can be disseminated.
Given that a significant portion of breathing also happens through the mouth (especially when exposed to heat), lips are pretty much like the gateway for colder air being inhaled and exhaled. So, the larger the lips, the more heat that can be disseminated. Thus, people living in hotter climatic conditions gradually evolved to have bigger lips.
The opposite is true for people in colder climates. They get a survival advantage if they are able to retain as much heat as possible and so they gradually evolved to have smaller lips thus limiting the amount of heat that can escape when cold air brushes past their lips while inhaling and exhaling.
Nose: Its pretty much for the same reason as with the lips. Nose is the most important part when it comes to contact with colder air and having a bigger surface area helps with cooling.
There is one other advantage with a wider nose though. Physical activity in a hotter climate is more demanding than when it is cool (because the body needs to spend some energy just for the cooling processes) and thus the body requires more oxygen. Having a wider nose and nostrils facilitates breathing in more air thereby supplying the body with more oxygen and thus giving a survival advantage in the evolutionary race.
February 10, 2015 at 2:55 am #115654Steven2015Participant
Actually, African people are mostly living in the regions near the equator, and because of geographical reasons, there are many tropical desert, steppe zone, which result in hot weather, dry climate with little rain.
So in order to adapt to the dry environment, people long living here have passed through a procedure of evolution. Their wide and big nose can better dissipate the heat, and the lips can also play a role of heat dissipation; and these distinctive appearance chracteristics get passed on from generation to generation. Besides, some Aficans think that thick lips are their unique symbol and are also very sexy, so there are probably some man-made factors.
June 15, 2020 at 6:53 pm #117140Temporary AtheistsParticipant
Hello, I am writing this message to try and help just that one person who comes-along later and finds this long-term thread. I am a scientist (retired) and politically Independent. The left-leaning comments on this page hinting at being all-concerned with how people “think” is very telling. The left-leaning tendency to assert that thinking is “dangerous” is very telling, and I am not surprised. I have studied the reasoning behind far-left and also far-right ideologies and I can explain both in great detail. In a nutshell, BOTH are judgmental tendencies, both are very self-centered tendencies.
It is also astounding those who claim to know Scientific Method but who practice the OPPOSITE. In other words they assert there is no God then selectively hunt and search for “evidence” to make a case. That is the opposite of Scientific Method and long ago God-fearing scientists such as Galileo knew this.
Do you have any idea how large our SUN is compared to the Earth? Our SUN is over 100 times larger than the Earth! The internal temperature of the SUN is over 20,000,000 DegF and seemingly goes on for “millions” of years! Do you have any idea how many stars (are known to) exist that are 1000 times larger than our SUN? Have you ever seen a photo of the milky way or our galaxy? So, all of that energy from countless stars and galaxies (the universe is infinite, not ‘finite’ by the way), all of that energy came from just “nowhere” – really? You can google-search all of this, the size of stars, temperature of the sun, etc.
Nothing can grow unless it is fed. The word “evolution” is a synonym for the word “change.” Be forewarned: a large collective on this planet is attempting to use the word “evolution” for political reasons. Living creatures can adapt and change but that does not mean jumping species. Left-leaning scientists then try and redefine the word “species” in order to manufacture more evidence. Fossil records prove STASIS not “evolution” and 99% of all fossils are merely insects NOT transitional complex forms. Just take a look around you and observe the great percentage of functioning cells and life forms that have not changed AT ALL in the past 5000+ years. In addition no-one knows what the decay rate of C14 was 100,000 years ago.
Atheists and the far-left thrive on hypocrisy. It is all about the MOUTH. It is all about brainwashing others, like a virus, like an entity that needs a host, not allowing people to go-the-course and think and conclude for themselves. The far right is not the answer either. Study Scientific Method for yourself. Try to learn what bias really means. Spend time alone. Study the world around you quietly with alone-time. Atheists try to shrug-off the word “death” because if they are confronted with this word they have no answer. Again, it is the opposite of Scientific Method to over-simplify and say “oh well” when confronted with the obvious.
All of the VAST amount of energy in our galaxy and the universe came from just “nowhere” – what was it again, a “bang” lol. Or, maybe it “grew” from nothing w/o being fed. If I’m wrong then there is no purpose to existing because a TEMPORARY existence is not life at all. If you’re wrong then it will be eternal punishment. Did I mention it’s for ALL ETERNITY, no cell phones, no appeal, no committees, no lawyers, you will not be let out. There’s a reason why He was here 2000 years ago, long before mankind’s arrogance and destructive technology. No one ever spoke the way He did and no-one has ever since. Take time to read. You can even find the Truth online while you still have time. It is NOT about a building or any one denomination. Take note who allows free speech and who does not. All atheists are TEMPORARY atheists.
January 11, 2021 at 4:44 am #117881hms_dreadnaughtParticipant
I think blacks have big lips because it has to with survival. Because of the harsh environment of Africa the people there are constantly going through times of famine. As a baby that is nursing during times of famine the babies with bigger lips could seal better around its mothers breasts allowing it to receive more food to survive and carry on its traits when babies with thinner lips may not get as much nourishment and die.
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