Why Are Men's Noses (Usually) Bigger?

In today's weird-as-hell news, a University of Iowa study has uncovered that, in general, men's noses are bigger than women's noses because men need more oxygen to grow their muscles. The nose-size difference, averaging about 10 percent, begins at puberty around age 11: Around that time, guys start to develop more muscle mass and need more oxygen to build up muscles. Bigger noses = more oxygen. (Around that same time in puberty, by the way, girls tend to gather a little extra fat instead.)

The importance of the nose, which is not just an appendage but a critical extension of the lungs, is backed up with previous research as well.

In a 1999 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers documented that males' energy needs doubles that of females post-puberty, “indicating a disproportional increase in energy expenditure in males during this developmental period,” Holton and his colleagues write.

The researchers, who published the story in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, think the difference has everything to do with evolution. In the days of Neanderthal yore, our ancestors had more muscle mass (because hunting/spearing/migrating not hamgurgering/videogaming/couchpotatoing) — and so they needed more oxygen.

“So, in humans, the nose can become small, because our bodies have smaller oxygen requirements than we see in archaic humans,” lead author Nathan Holton said. “This all tells us physiologically how modern humans have changed from their ancestors.”

The study tracked the nose growth of 38 people from age three to 28, noting the discrepancy that arose beginning at age 11. Although all the subjects were of European descent, there's no reason, Holton says, the findings shouldn't hold true across cultures.

And as for women with strong noses? Hey, maybe you got some extra muscle out of it too!

And now ya knows about the nose.