Monday, January 25, 2010

Earwax Gene

Before Henry was born we wondered whom he would most resemble.  We wondered if he would have my eyes or if he would have Chris’ height.  We wondered if he’d have crooked teeth like I have or bad gas like Chris has.  But we never thought, "I wonder which kind of earwax he will have."

For those of you who don’t know, Asians and Caucasians have dramatically different earwax.  Those of East Asian descent have dry and flaky earwax – like fish food.  Europeans and Africans have wet and gooey ear wax – like hot drippy caramel.  Southern Asians and Central Asians can have either type.  In January 2006, the New York Times reported that Japanese scientists have discovered the earwax gene.  

The study found that wet earwax was most likely the ancestral form before humans left Africa 50,000 years ago.  Researchers believe that the dry form of earwax, like less sweating, small nostrils and the fold of fat above the eyelid, was an adaptation to the cold climate.  

If you’re wondering which gene your kids will have, the wet earwax gene is dominant.  Therefore, your child will only have dry earwax if both parents carry the dry earwax gene.  Alas, this study has crushed my dreams of passing on the dry earwax gene.  

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