Why Men Have Bigger Noses than Women

December 17, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. external [ik-STUR-nl] (adj.) – on the outside, especially of the body
Example: The skin is the largest external part of the body.

2. take place [teyk pleys] (v. phrase) – to happen or occur
Example: Physical body changes begin to take place at puberty.

3. puberty [PYOO-ber-tee] (n.) – the period in which a person becomes capable of sexual reproduction
Example: Teenagers sometimes feel awkward during puberty because of all the changes happening in their body.

4. rib cage [rib keyj] (phrasal noun) – the bony enclosure in one’s upper body that protects his or her heart and lungs
Example: Without the rib cage, the heart and lungs are unprotected.

5. nasal [NEY-zuh l] (adj.) – referring to the nose and its functions
Example: Runny nose is a symptom of nasal allergy.


Read the text below.
A new study has recently revealed why men’s noses are bigger than those of women’s.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa. They analyzed the nose size and growth of 38 Europeans who had been part of the Iowa Facial Growth Study since they were three years up to their mid-20s. Throughout the study, the researchers regularly measured the internal and external sizes of the participants’ noses.

According to the study, men’s noses are 10% bigger than women’s noses on average. This result is because men have more muscle mass than women. More muscle mass requires more oxygen for better muscle development and maintenance. Thus, the researchers believe that having a bigger nose is the body’s way of getting more oxygen.

According to Nathan Holton, lead author of the study, the nose size of both men and women are the same from birth to puberty. The size difference begins to take place at puberty, which often starts at age 11.   

The study further revealed that modern humans have smaller noses compared to ancient ancestors with bigger noses, proportional to their bigger body built. Their bigger body built required them more oxygen intake.

Holton also noted that modern humans have smaller rib cages and lungs, which further prove their need for lesser oxygen than ancient people. This finding is thus a clear illustration of how modern humans have changed physiologically from their ancestors.

According to Holton, this study is the first step to having a better understanding of the relationship between nasal and body size development.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that men have bigger noses because men require more oxygen intake? Why or why not?
·         How do you think the findings of this study can be useful to humans?

Discussion B

·         What could be the disadvantages of having a big nose? Please explain your answer.
·         If you had a big nose, would you like to reduce its size through surgery? Why or why not?


December 17, 2013