Thick Hair, Small Boobs, Shovel Shaped Teeth and More

Yep, there’s a gene for these traits, and more.  The same gene, named EDAR (short for Ectodysplasin receptor EDARV370A), it turns out, also confers more sweat glands and distinctive teeth and is found in the majority of East Asian people.

This is one of the results of the National Geographic’s Genographic project.  This mutation found at location rs3827760 on chromosome 2 occurred about 35,000 years ago.  It apparently has conferred some advantage to its carriers, because it is found in the majority of Asian people today.  We don’t exactly know why that happened, but maybe ancient male Asians preferred thick haired, small boobed and sweaty women.  Or maybe those women survived when women with more body fat (yes, boobs are fat, sorry guys) and who could sweat less perished.

This New York Times article discusses the experiments performed to verify that this gene in fact does confer those traits.  The scientific article itself is available in the journal, Cell although it’s behind a paywall.

Want to know if you carry this trait?  If you’ve tested with either Family Tree DNA or 23andMe, you’re in luck.

Download your raw results file and open the file using any tool.  Generally, a spreadsheet or Notepad will be your preferred methods.  Then using the search function of the tool you’ve selected (ctl+f for Notepad or Excel’s find function) search for rs3827760.  You will see two letters comprised of either T, A, C or G.  If you have a G shown for either letter at this location, then you carry this particular mutation.

If you carry this mutation, you’ve probably already headed for the mirror.  You’ll know already if you have small breasts, if you’re a female, believe me.  You may never have thought about thick hair shafts, which isn’t to be confused with lots of hair.  And your level of sweatiness is just what it is.  I’ve never even considered that there were different sweatiness levels.  But what about Asian teeth?  Well, that trait is called sinodonty and here’s a nice wiki article and another nice article, with examples, here.  If your teeth are shovel shaped, meaning the backs of your upper 4 teeth are shaped like a spoon as opposed to straight, then you have this trait.

Asian teeth

So are you wondering what this might have to do with genetic genealogy?  Well, if you carry this gene, then you obtained it from some Asian ancestor.  If you’re in America and not of Asian ancestry, then there are pretty much only two routes.  One would be Native American ancestry and the second would be the population or invasion of Europe by Asian groups, such as the Mongol Hordes and the Huns.  Your genealogy will have to be your guide as to which source contributed this gene to your ancestors, and ultimately to you.

Oh yes, and one last thing, this mutation isn’t the only one involved in at least some of these traits, specifically the teeth.  I don’t carry the G and I do have some of the Asian teeth characteristics.  I don’t have thick hair shafts which makes sense since EDAR is primarily associated with this trait.  And, well, I’m just not discussing the boobs and sweaty traits (and my husband is utterly forbidden to comment)…..TMI:)

14 thoughts on “Thick Hair, Small Boobs, Shovel Shaped Teeth and More

  1. Interestingly, I have six half maternal siblings. 23andme’s Ancestry Composition reports that two of the six have a segment of <0.1% Native American on Chr11 from our maternal grandmother who married into a male line who's father married into a mixed NA from NE Oklahoma. I am reported to have 0.2% NA though on Chr10, 0.3% Sub-Saharan African (appears to be paternal) and remainder 99.5% European. Of the seven of us, I am then only one that has a G at rs3827760: AG confirmed with FtDNA as well.
    MJost

  2. My Asian dentist told me I have shovel teeth about 10 years ago. Until then I didn’t know they were different than anyone else. I also have very thick hair but I seldom sweat and I don’t have small breasts.I think you mean I cary the gene even if I dont have all the traits. Is that right?
    I am 70 years old and my hair is still very thick.

    • Thick hair follicles and lots of hair are two different things. You can tell if you carry the gene for the trait by looking at your full sequence data. In some cases, when more than one gene is involved with the trait, you can have the trait and not THIS particular gene. But if you have the gene, you will have the trait.

    • Ah, you may have Native American ancestry, as Native Americans have the traits of thick hair and shovel teeth, but sweat less. Breast size is more average to full-size, I think based on my own experience. I am visiting this site because I’m interested in the genetic drift aspects of these markers. I have 75% Native American ancestry, and have the traits of very thick black hair, shovel teeth, average breast size, slight epicanthic folds, very little body hair, and do not sweat much.

  3. I seem to fit all the “criteria”, and tried to do as you suggested with my raw data, but am distinctly UNsavvy with computers, and message said “could not find”, so know I’ve done something wrong.
    My dentist told me when I was 12-13 that I had “shovel teeth”, which I’d never heard of, he said was found in Asians, Native Americans, etc.. As my mother was from Aberdeen, Scotland, and not much known at that time about father’s family, thought no more about it. In later yrs., when talking to father’s sister for first time, she informed me of story in family about full-blood woman one of my ancestors married….researched, but could find no documentation. When I got my results, and heard of Gedmatch admixture programs, I tried it, and there it was (1.08%)! Family “rumor” vindicated…….
    All this is fascinating, and I look forward to more revelations.

  4. I just knew I had the mutation. I checked my FTDNA results, and I do! Everything fits but for the hair. The shaft of my hair seems to be of medium thickness, neither fine nor coarse. I’ve certainly noticed coarser hair on others.

    I think the characterization of being more sweaty is not quite right. Having more sweat glands means a more broadly released sweat, hence a more efficient cooling system. More sweat glands would mean less moisture output per gland—yes?—perhaps even a negligible amount per gland under conditions that would render palpable wetness for those without the mutation.

    This is anecdotal, but when I had a gym membership, I’d notice the other women would just soak their clothes. Armpits, back, chest, hands were visibly wet whereas I would stay dry. Perhaps this explains also why foot odor has never been a problem for me. However, this might also explain why I’m always on the cold side.

  5. I have bigger boobs for my length and I m normal built. I have what I know strong connection by the autosomal dna with East Asia. My boops are not fat I have lots of glands. How do I know weill when women in Sweden are over 50 years ago they check your breasts. And when it comes to my hair I know I m getting more instead of less. That is very strange as we know women get bolder when they getting older. I will check this gene. It is interesting I got to know I have at the mtDNA Neatherthals mutations both HVR1 and HVR2. Never know

  6. My mother looks like she has a lot of Native American ancestry,and has all of the traits yet she has only 1/8th Native American ancestry,and most of her tribal ancestry is Muskogee Creek.Her half sister actually has exactly 3/32nds more Native American ancestry,but doesn’t look it at all,and my dad is 1/8th Native American ancestry,and all of his tribal ancestry is Muskogee Creek.My mother can’t take the test on 23andme because she doesn’t have enough saliva in her mouth.GEDMatch said that 2.92% of my dna is Central Asian,2.2%%Southern Asian,.25%Southeast Asian,1.74%Oceanian,and only 1.78%Native American,and .68%Mesoamerican.23andme says that only 2% of my dna is not European,but is Unassigned,and my maternal ancestral line was in Nigeria 500 years ago,and I traced it back to the Melungeons of southeastern Kentucky

  7. Pingback: 2013 – DNA-eXplained in Review | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  8. It is my recollection this paper, and earlier ones, presents evidence that this SNP in EDAR affects tooth morphology, hair thickness, and sweat glands. However, they do not show that the variants at this SNP affect breast size in humans (if I remember correctly). The confusions seems to be in part due to an error in Wade’s article, where he confuses what has been seen in mouse with the results in humans (perhaps because the Cell article speculates along these lines).

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