Feb 132015

Having a slightly upturned nose makes women appear more feminine, according to scientists who claim the angle at the nasal tip should be exactly 106 degrees.


Noses which point downwards are generally thought to appear droopy, long and masculine but a survey of people’s reactions to digitally altered photographs found that those which incline slightly upwards – with an angle greater than 90 degrees – can enhance femininity.

Researchers concluded that a tilt of 106 degrees was the optimum angle, but added that because the study was conducted using photographs of young, white women, the findings may not apply to other races or ethnicities.

The findings, published in the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery journal, could help cosmetic surgeons take a step closer to aesthetic perfection.

Previous studies of nose jobs, or rhinoplasty, have failed to provide a consensus on the ideal angle of the nose to a woman’s face.

Researchers showed a group of 106 people photographs of several Caucasian women aged 18 to 25 which had been altered to place the nose at angles of 96, 101, 106, 111 and 116 degrees to their face.

The results showed that 106 degrees was considered the most feminine angle. A separate online survey of almost 4,000 people delivered similar findings.

The study backed up previous research papers which had identified 104 and 108 degrees as the ideal angle.

In men an angle of 90 degrees to the face is considered to be the most attractive as it makes the face seem more masculine.

Dr Omar Ahmed of New York University, first author of the study, said: “Throughout history artists and scholars have been engrossed in the pursuit of capturing what constitutes beauty. Dating back to ancient Egypt artists idealised facial proportions in their works.

“To our knowledge this is the first population-based study to attempt to simultaneously determine the ideal NTP – nasal tip projection – and rotation. A rotation of 106 degrees was found to be the most aesthetic.”

“Further research is needed to determine whether a more ideal projection exists.”

Feb 102015

Guidelines warning people to avoid eating fatty foods such as butter and cheese were not scientifically backed up when they were introduced 30 years ago, but dietary experts say that many perceived backtracks on what is healthy or unhealthy do more harm than good as it is down to the individual.

Coffee, sugar, salt, wine and chocolate are just some of the things that are said to be bad for you one minute and then good for you the next.

The reports authors, led by University of the West of Scotland researcher Zoë Harcombe, claim that an analysis of the original evidence used to justify saturated fat warnings has exposed serious flaws in how the original data was gathered.

The new research claims to show that women were excluded from trials to determine the relationship between fat and coronary heart disease and that the risks of saturated fats were not conclusively proven.

The paper also exposes how the original research only focused on unhealthy men and that its findings did not explicitly call for new dietary guidelines to be imposed.

“It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens given the contrary results from a small number of unhealthy men,” argue the reports authors.

“Dietary advice does not merely need a review; it should not have been introduced.”

Feb 102015

The North American yellow-and-black monarch butterfly, that migrates every winter from southern Canada to central Mexico in search of milkweed to lay its eggs, has been making news of late mainly because of its declining numbers.

How the insects manage to travel thousands of kilometres without getting lost has been the subject of much curiosity. While it was known that they use the position of the sun, supported by an internal body clock, to navigate, there was still the question of how they manage even when skies are overcast.

On Wednesday, scientists from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute published the results of their study which seem to have confirmed that monarch butterflies, like many birds and sea turtles, are aided by a geomagnetic compass — a mechanism by which they are able to tell the direction based on the angle of Earth’s magnetic field.

Inclination angle

Earth’s magnetic field lines emerge from the South Pole, loop across the equator, and re-enter at the North Pole. At any location, the field lines meet the surface of the Earth at a particular angle called inclination angle. Monarch butterflies made to fly in an experimental set-up called a flight simulator were shown to orient themselves based on this inclination angle, especially in cloudy conditions.

The scientists were also able to find out that it was proteins called CRY in the butterflies’ antennae that activate this inclination compass when light of a particular wavelength — the ultra-violet/blue end of the spectrum — fell on it.

The scientists were able to narrow down to this wavelength range because of previous studies that had shown the ability of ultraviolet radiation to cause similar behaviour in fruitflies “The defined spectral requirement for the inclination compass discovered in our studies potentially explains why previous flight simulator studies were unable to identify an inclination magnetic compass,” the authors say in their study published in Nature Communications.

Several implications

This finding may have several implications for conservation efforts of monarch butterflies, which have been given ‘near threatened’ status by the World Wildlife Fund. Their declining numbers may have more reasons than loss of milkweed habitats and climate change.

“Another vulnerability to now consider is the potential disruption of the magnetic compass in monarchs by human-induced electromagnetic noise, which can apparently disrupt geomagnetic orientation in a migratory bird,” the authors warn.

Feb 102015

Of all the kangaroos who live at Josephine’s Kangaroo Orphanage in Coober Pedy, Bella is by far the most affectionate.


But when Josephine Brennan-Kuss noticed the big red licking and nuzzling certain spots on her body, she didn’t realise the six-year-old was trying to get a message across.

‘I’d been meaning to get them checked for ages, and I just kept forgetting,’ Josephine told the MailOnline, talking about some small lesions which she had come across a month or so earlier.

Josephine Brennan-Kuss had her life saved by her kangaroo Bella after she sniffed out cancerous spots on her face and body.

‘She concentrated on these spots, one on my hand, one on my foot and one on my face.

‘She was on a mission to tell me something.’

When Josephine finally took notice of Bella, saw a doctor and got the spots checked out, she couldn’t believe what the kangaroo had alerted her to.

She had three cancerous spots removed from the places on her body Bella had been paying attention to, and an additional spot biopsied on her face.


Bella, a six-year-old red kangaroo, paid special attention to spots on Josephine’s face and body which led to her having them checked out and removed

The 63-year-old was lucky to catch the Basel cell carcinomas when she did, left any longer and they could have turned much nastier.

‘They’re non-aggressive but still need to be removed. They start eating your flesh away if you leave them,’ Josephine revealed.

The 63-year-old had one spot removed and another biopsied on her face, and will undergo surgery in July to completely remove all the cancers

‘I’ve heard of people who had one on their ear and had to have half their ear removed.’

Though she still needs to undergo surgery in July to completely remove the lesions, the wildlife carer is amazed that Bella, who has been at her and husband Terry’s orphanage since she was a joey, was able to detect the cancer.

‘We’re still in awe ourselves – because if it hadn’t been for Bella I wouldn’t have got it checked out.’

However, this is not the first time Bella has saved a life.

Three and a half years ago, Terry had a series of strokes. During that time Josephine said Bella, who is normally a ‘mummy’s girl’, paid more attention than usual to her husband.

Big red kangaroos are the most common species in the Coober Pedy area, where Josephine and Terry run their own art gallery and wildlife orphanage.

‘They’re big sooks, they’re very affectionate, very calm, such a lovely temperament,’ Josephine revealed.

‘[But] prior to him having the strokes we noticed that Bella was paying him so much attention, was being a real daddy’s girl.

‘She was licking his arm, lay down next to him. But we didn’t put two and two together.

The kangaroo orphanage mostly takes in joeys whose mothers have been hunted or died in road accidents

As it turned out, Terry was very unwell and Bella had sensed a small stroke which was then followed by a larger one.

‘Some people who suffer from epilepsy have dogs that alert them when they’re going to have a seizure, maybe it’s like that,’ Josephine said.

‘I don’t even know that they smell it, I think that they sense.’

Speaking of Bella’s discovery, the wildlife lover admitted that her and Terry would certainly be paying greater attention to the kangaroo’s intuition from now on.

‘We’ll probably be walking on eggshells every time one of them gives us a kiss or cuddle,’ she joked.

‘Bella’s living up to her name – she is certainly beautiful.’

Feb 102015

Bare-knuckle fighting helped to shape the human face which evolution has designed to minimise the damage inflicted by a fast-moving fist, according to a radical new theory about how violence changed the way we looked compared to our ape-like ancestors.

The transition in facial structure from apes to early hominins had previously been explained largely by the need to chew on nuts and other hard foods that needed crushing which led to a robust jaw, large molar teeth, a prominent brow and strong cheek muscles.

However, scientists have devised another plausible explanation based on the need for the face to be buttressed against the impact of flying fists which had become a principal weapon in unarmed combat between competing males.

“We suggest that many of the facial features that characterise early hominins evolved to protect the face from injury during fighting with fists,” said David Carrier and Michael Morgan in a study published in the journal Biological Reviews.

The researchers analysed the facial bone structures of a number of hominins, such as an early human ancestor known as Australopithecus, and compared them to apes and modern man. They found that the parts of the face that changed most were the ones most likely to be damaged in a fist fight.

They also found that these changes in facial anatomy closely coincided with the ability of the early hominins to clench their fists and to use them as swinging clubs in a fight – a key tactical change from the biting and scratching preferred by fighting apes.


The stronger facial bones of the australopiths (second and third rows) appeared at the same time that our ancestors learned to clench their fists, before declining along with upper body strength.

“Compared to apes like chimps and gorillas, early hominins had very robust jaws, with large molar teeth and strong jaw muscles. They also have very stout cheek bones and brow ridges,” said David Carrier of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

“The australopiths were characterised by a suite of traits that may have improved fighting ability, including hand proportions that allow formation of a fist, effectively turning the delicate musculoskeletal system of the hand into a club for striking,” Dr Carrier said.

“If indeed the evolution of our hand proportions were associated with selection for fighting behaviour you might expect the primary target, the face, to have undergone evolution to better protect it from injury when punched,” he said.

With his colleague Mike Morgan, a medical doctor at Utah University, Dr Carrier analysed the facial bones that were most likely to be fractured in fights between modern humans and found that these were the same bones that were most likely to have been changed during human evolution.

“When modern humans fight the face is the primary target. The bones of the face that suffer the highest rates of fracture from fights are the bones that show the greatest increase in robusticity during the evolution of early bipedal apes, the australopiths,” Dr Carrier said.

“These are also the bones that show the greatest difference between women and men in both australopiths and modern humans,” he said.

The gender differences in facial bones supports the view that they evolved to buttress the face against flying fists given that fights between males are more common than those between females.

“In other words, male and female faces are different because the parts of the skull that break in fights are bigger in males,” he said.

“In both apes and humans, males are much more violent than females and most male violence is directed at other males. Because males are the primary target of violence, one would expect more protective buttressing in males and that is what we find,” he added.

The large, thickly enamelled molar teeth of australopiths may have allowed the energy of an upward blow to the jaw, for instance, to be transferred from the lower jaw to the skull, allowing the energy to be absorbed with the help of jaw muscles, the scientists suggested.

“What our research has been showing is that many of the anatomical characters of great apes and our ancestors, the early hominins – such as bipedal posture, the proportions of our hands and the shape of our faces – do in fact improve fighting performance,” Dr Carrier said.