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  • Whatever you call them, not many people actually like their own.

  • But why do they stick out like that?

  • Why are they made of that bendy cartilage tissue and not bone?

  • And why do you always get a spot on the end of it

  • right before a job interview?

  • Our lives would be very different

  • if instead of noses we just had two wee holes on the front of our face.

  • I mean why do you think Voldemort was always so raging?

  • My life is terrible.

  • Like loads of our external organs, noses evolved to help us eat

  • and therefore live.

  • Our nose is close to our mouth with downward pointing nostrils

  • so even at the very last minute

  • we can smell if something has gone rotten.

  • Noses even help us eat when we're too young to nip to the shops ourselves

  • by making sure we don't suffocate while being breastfed.

  • That little air gap created by your nose pushing up against the breast

  • coupled with the fact that the larynx sits much higher when you're a baby

  • means that you can eat and breathe at the same time.

  • The external nose is mainly made up of a springy cartilage

  • and it's a good job too.

  • They take quite a bit of a bashing throughout our lives

  • so it makes a lot of sense that they're softer

  • and less likely to splinter and shatter.

  • While our jutting noses are in prime position to take a battering,

  • the position is also helpful for keeping rainwater or sweat

  • from flowing straight into our nostrils.

  • Not all creatures are so design savvy.

  • The Myanmar snub-nosed monkey has an upward pointing nose

  • and is nicknamed the sneezing monkey

  • because every time it rains monkey goes atishoo!

  • Sounds cute, but when you're trying to live your best camouflaged life

  • a sneeze isn't the best way to stay concealed from predators.

  • So your nose probably isn't as unfortunately shaped

  • as the snub-nosed monkey,

  • but what if you're not happy with it?

  • Rhinoplasty, or a nose job to the rest of us,

  • is the most common plastic surgery carried out anywhere

  • and it's nothing new.

  • Rhinoplasty first became popular during the mass syphilis outbreak

  • in 16th Century Europe,

  • as one of the unfortunate symptoms of advanced syphilis

  • is the loss of soft tissue and therefore your nose.

  • A nose job then was as much fun as the disease.

  • Surgeons would cut a flap in the arm,

  • attach it to where your nose once was

  • and once it fuses with your face

  • sever your arm free and mould what's left

  • into something resembling a nose.

  • Now push the thought of arm flaps from your mind

  • and think instead about lovely, warm weather.

  • Our environment has influenced the way our noses evolve too.

  • In warmer climates there is less need to warm the air up

  • on the way into the lungs

  • so the immediate flow of air straight into the lungs is preferable

  • resulting in shorter, flatter noses.

  • In colder climates, you're more likely to find long, thin noses

  • that are better at heating and humidifying cold air

  • before it gets to the lungs.

  • As well as being damned cute,

  • dogs are said to have one of the best senses of smell going.

  • According to a recent study carried out in Florida,

  • specially trained dogs had an almost 97% accuracy

  • in sniffing out cancer in blood samples.

  • But our own sense of smell certainly isn't to be sniffed at -

  • humans are better than dogs

  • at identifying the smell of some ripe fruits

  • simply because it's a more valuable trait to us.

  • And if you wonder why the smell of ripe fruit takes you right back

  • to your 2008 Benidorm weekender featuring too many mango daiquiris,

  • it's because of odour memory -

  • a rather unique ability that we possess

  • because the part of our brain that deals with our sense of smell

  • is right next to the hippocampus, the area where memories are formed.

  • Saving us from suffocation and salmonella,

  • sneezing and freezing,

  • it's safe to say we owe a whole lot

  • to our pointy, flat, wide, button, bumpy noses.

  • Even if it is where all the bogeys live.

Whatever you call them, not many people actually like their own.

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B1 smell monkey nosed syphilis sneezing cartilage

What's the point of noses? | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/08/18
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