- Researchers studied 1,000 female twins to find features controlled by genes
- End of the nose, the area around the lips and cheekbones are highly heritable
- Scientists have created ‘atlases’ showing how heritable each part of the face is
People often say of children that they have ‘their mother’s eyes’ or their ‘father’s smile’. But actually the part of the face that is the most ‘handed down’ is the tip of the nose, and the area just below it, known as the philtrum, a scientific study has found. The tip of the nose is around 66 per cent likely to be the result of your parents’ genes, and the philtrum around 62 per cent. These areas, as well as the cheekbones and the inner corner of the eye were found to be most influenced by genetics.
Some parents, such as Reese Witherspoon, whose daughter Ava looks nearly identical to her may have many points of similarity in their faces. Other celebrities with ‘mini-me’ offspring include David Beckham and his son Brooklyn, and Cindy Crawford and her daughter Kaia Gerber. While it may seem a simple matter to assess how likely a particular facial feature is to be handed down, the area has been little studied. Research published this week in Scientific Reports used computer image and statistical shape analysis to shed light on which parts of the face are most likely to be inherited.
To test which features are the results of genetics, a team from King’s College, London looked at the faces of 952 identical, and non-identical twins. By using computer software, they scanned the twins faces using 3d cameras, and then calculated the points of similarity between the twins, and their non-identical sibling – who only share half their genes. By seeing which parts of the face are the most similar in shape in a pair of identical twins, the researchers were able to calculate the chances that the shape of that part of the face is determined by genetics.
They used their results to create interactive face maps that reveal the features you’re most likely to inherit from your parents. Biological traits such as facial features are influenced by genes and ‘environmental’ factors including the socioeconomic conditions a person grew up in. Professor Giovanni Montana, from King’s College London, said: ‘The notion that our genes control our face is self-evident.
‘Many of us have facial traits that clearly resample those of our parents and identical twins are often indistinguishable. ‘However, quantifying precisely which parts of the face are strongly heritable has been challenging so far.’