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Why do we have a nose and not just two holes? © Getty Images

Why do we have a nose, rather than just two holes?

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Several of our ape cousins have no need for large nostril umbrellas, but our nose is designed to do much more than keep the rain out.

Asked by: Anonymous

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With two uncovered holes the rain would get in. Our cousins the gorilla and chimpanzee have much flatter noses, but they don't spend nearly as much time upright as we do, so they don't need such a large nostril umbrella. Aside from protecting us from rain showers, our noses may have evolved to cope with the much drier environment of the African savannah. As well as being used for breathing and smelling, the nose acts as a heat and moisture exchanger. This reduces the humidity of the air we breathe out, thereby conserving water in an arid climate. Baboons, which also live in the savannah, have long nasal passages too.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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