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Noses didn't need cold to evolve

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9:57am, April 20, 2005

From Milwaukee, at a joint meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society and American Association of Physical Anthropologists

Fossil evidence that Neandertals possessed exceptionally large, broad noses has often been explained as an evolutionary response to life in cold, dry locales. An expansive schnoz might have warmed incoming cold air or expelled body heat during hunting and other strenuous activities.

However, new data indicate that climate played no role in shaping the Neandertal nose. Marc R. Meyer of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and his coworkers found similarly sized nasal passages in a set of 10 Neandertal skulls, some from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern sites that were warm and humid and others from frigid European sites.

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