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:)



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53 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.

  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.

    • If you are cold and don’t sweat much it can also be a thyroid issue (like Hashimoto’s disease). I had those problems, but don’t have the genetic code for this trait. Can be either.

  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

    • Siblings are going to be different as far as percentages go we all get 50% of DNA from our mom’s and 50% from our dad’s, the kicker is for each child it varies because gets swirled and shaken around then it’s released…kinda like bingo balls before they come out of the shoot! Not a very scientific explanation but you get the idea.

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  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).

  9. So weird. I have a GG on rs3827760, but all of the characteristics, including with the teeth (my dentist pointed it out). I also have asian DNA on my testing. So now I’m confused that I don’t have the gene but all of the signs (as well as most of my maternal family having them).

  10. Well, there has to be another SNP controlling these factors as well. I’m AA on rs3827760 (as is my Belgian husband) and I have historically documented NA ancestry, as well as Amerindian, Meso-American, Arctic, East Asian and Siberian genes. I have shovel-shaped incisors, no Carabelli cusp, and three-rooted molars.

    My younger son was working in a dental lab and was asked to do an impression of his mouth for examination by a forensics expert who was bragging he could identify the race of a person just by looking at an impression of the mouth and teeth. He examined the impression and wrote in his report, “This person is Han Chinese.” When told he was wrong he said, “Well, then he is of US East Coast Algonquian Native ancestry. They have identical mouth and tooth structure to Han Chinese.” That nailed it. I have to admit we look very Asian. Watching documentaries about Tibet I see my Mother’s face everywhere. The Han Chinese and the Sino-Tibetans were one group until about 7,000 years ago, and Native Americans branched off before that.

    I also have straight coarse hair in which the cuticles are so tight that the hair shaft is equally “slick” whether you run a hair up or down the shaft. It will not take a perm because the solution cannot penetrate the hair shaft. One hairdresser said, “Your hair is Chinese.” LOL

  11. Sinanthropus pekinensis, a homo erectus found near Peking China also exhibited shovel shaped incisors and was dated at about 750,000 years before present. So shovel shaped incisors are one of a few genetic traits passed down to us by a very early hominid population.

  12. Omg! This perfectly describes me and I’m like 1/4 native American! Really like my teeth, my hair, everything.

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  14. Well I am 110% Chinese (born there) and do not have thick hair, sweat a lot or have small boobs. I’m not sure about the teeth. However my race is at fixity for this gene. What happened. Lol only a gene test can tell for sure.

    • Well, Minnie, you might not be 110 % Chinese. My daughter’s friend was adopted from China and she’s part Middle Eastern probably due to the Silk Road. You can’t tell,but it’s in there. The Chinese invaded many areas west of Europe. You may have a bit of “Indo-European” blood if an ancestor had taken home a bride from Central Asia.

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  16. Hi, I’m a tall blond Norwegian with blue eyes…I went to high school in Ohio and the local dentist told me that I had identical teeth to their local Native American tribe. I have very thick hair, high and flat cheekbones., very strange to have the same teeth though..maybe some Vikings took a native girl back to Norway 😉

    • I’m a short mix with blue eyes, high cheekbones and small boobs. I don’t sweat much and I have shovel incisors. Never checked the cusps or roots, will next time I’m at the dentist.

      Here’s the thing: my mother is half Finnish and half Pennsylvania Dutch, Dad is a half German, a quarter British and a quarter Cherokee as far as I can tell, but the family that would be “half-breeds” told us all they knew was our native ancestry wasn’t to be discussed (when their parents were still alive) and the rumor was it came from Dan’l Boone’s older brother Israel’s second wife. While we may have Mrs. Boone in our ancestry, that doesn’t explain my grandma’s, aunts’ and dad’s black hair (and in the case of one aunt, darker skin. Most have high cheekbones, and the older ones had a distinctive jowly look I’ve only seen in Native women. A few of my cousins looked just like little Indian boys, and a recent photo shows one of them looking very Native although wearing a suit. Now I’ve got the jowly thing going on.

      So I am wondering if the Finnish may have contributed the shovel-shaped teeth too. My sisters inherited far more Finnish looks than me. They are blondes with epicanthal folds and have the shovel-shaped teeth and high cheekbones. They have blue eyes with green flecks like my Finnish Grandma. And of course, our mitochondrial DNA says we’re from Finland, essentially. I don’t know if any of my grandparents had shovel-shaped teeth. But I understand the Mongols may have contributed the epicanthal folds, and the shovel teeth.

      I guess we’re real Heinz 57.

      • it would come via your Finn. I’m part Sami and it’s known that Sami are a half-n-half between asiatic-mongoloid type people and white european people. Look at some photos and you will see blond european looking and very asian looking people side by side who are members of the same community. Sami live a lifestyle so similar to native american that when Sami emigrated to the US and settled in places like Minnesota (where I suspect I got mine from, dad’s mom’s parents both from families in MN) people called them the “white indians” because they make teepees and sweat lodges, used sleds and sled dogs and pack dogs, and men and women both wore leggings with a long tunic over the top. Sami of northern finland and native american and some of the high arctic people in russia are all related from long long ago, some of them went over the land bridge to the americas and others stayed behind.

      • when my dentist asked me point blank where i got my asian or native shovel-shaped incisors, I didn’t have a clue. i asked my physical anthropology professor if that was true and he said yes, it’s an either-or, if you have them you have either asiatic or native american ancestry. so i had my dna tested. came back less than 1% native but a good percentage of finn and with a maternal haplogroup for my dad (his mom’s moms’ moms mom etc all the way back) of V, which today is rare and only found in any strong percentage in the sami, the indigenous finns. His mom’s family came from minnesota where a number of finns settled.

    • if you’re norwegian with shovel shaped incisors, it’s most likely through Sami blood. If you have your dna tested through 23&me or other company, sami usually comes up as “finnish” since it’s not in their system as its own category yet. sami are half asiatic and related to the samoyeds of siberia. sami are culturally very similar to native americans who crossed from the european artic following herd animals like caribou/reindeer into north america and native americans are also considered an offshoot of the asiatic poples and have the scoop shaped incisors..
      however there was also plenty of native-white marriage tho in ohio, michigan, etc. and even 50-50 kids with one full native parent can be blonde,
      the only way to know if the teeth came from sami, native american, both, or neither/other, is to do a dna test.

    • I am norwegian, irish, scottish welsh and cherokee myself. I have shovel shaped teeth as well, pretty white af but i have the face shape and cheekbones of my cherokee side. I have heard that some tribes of america have been linked to scandanavia as well. Very fascinating! Proud to be both Norwegian and Native american myself! A great mix if you ask me hehe 😉

  17. My mother is 1/5 japanese, her greatgrandfather was japanese she was raised with her grandmother who was married to the japanese man, i thought he had very very strong genes because people asks me if im black and asian because My hair is jet black and 2 feet long considering how long thier hair is maybe thats why but My grandma has the roundest cup teeth ever but she might have native american in her My grandfather does , hes kinda dark but she is really light skin My dad is biracial, but i have the folded eyelids still which goes really far in genes i have high cheekbones and light kinda brown skin i was blue when i was born on for about 3 and a half months but thats only the parts of My family that would be talked about My family werent very nice people they tend to shut each other out but imigrants in My state acts as if i was an imigrant from another country.

  18. “Accidents” does not exists, but only unknown logical necessities.
    The “turn” in the research of Val d’Anniviers was signified by the test conducted by Dr. Jean-Marc Caloz the local doctor of Vissoie during which he collected blood samples from the aboriginals of the valley.
    The samples were sent to Osaka for professor Hideo Matsumoto.
    The blood samples testify that a part of the aboriginal people carry inner asiatic gene markers, which is not characteristic for European population, but is typical for the territories from were
    the huns came,at the same time occurs in the old countries of hungarians and avars. (Gm marker research pointed out that the Gm abst and Gm afb3 gene markers occuring among Hungarians are missing among other European populations. International mitochondrial DNA research has also recently identified additional Central Asian characteristics among Hungarians). This facts only lead us to the conclusion that the ancestors of anniviards are not ancient europeans but huns or avars or they are the remains (living in Switzerland) of the conquering hungarians.

  19. I have an East Asian hap (Y1a), and have incredibly (famously) thick hair. I also have taurus (tauri) on both my upper and lower palates of my mouth- also an East Asian feature. My atDNA is Eastern and Western European, which means that my “mother” came across Asia from Japan to Eastern Europe quite a while ago. I am not sure if I have shovel teeth or if I sweat more than usual. I’m trying to download my raw data from FTDNA to the notepad, but it just looks like gibberish and the search feature can’t find the rs3827760. What am I doing wrong? Not very savvy with the computers! Ugh.

  20. I have been reading on native American genetic traits because my mother is descended from Cherokee Indians going all the way back to the trail of tears, who later started marrying Europeans. My mother then married a man of Irish/German descent, my dad. I have become much more interested in this because I took after my father, and am very fair skinned and don’t resemble my copper skinned, dark eyed, black hair mother to any great extent, and have been accused of lying about my native heritage. I’ve learned that not only can I attribute my hooded eyes and high cheekbones to my native blood, but also my crooked pinky fingers on both hands, my long middle toes, and my hypoglycemia, things I never knew were even common genetic traits of Cherokee people until now. My daughters also have crooked pinkies and the oldest has hooded eyes. Just goes to show that a light skin person isn’t necessarily all “white” and maybe assumptions should not be made.

  21. I’m reading Barry Cunliffe’s book Britain Begins by Oxford University Press. On page 176 he talks of the Neolithic population of Britain having a “comparatively high incidence of . . . shovel-shaped incisors….” He suggests inbreeding.

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  23. I had a dentist ask me “how much Indian” I was when I get braces on my teeth as a teen.
    An CNO Cherokee lady tell me about the teeth being used as a racial diagnostic, but when I tested with three companies, zero American Indian ancestry showed up.
    How does that happen?

  24. Odd I have T;T yet I have shovel teeth. However my hair follicles are mostly medium with some fine as well, and my hair is wavy-curly. I wonder what other genes could contribute to shovel teeth unless no other ones are known? Strange…

  25. Thanks for the informative write up! I have the shovel teeth characteristic, and dentists have always asked if I have NA blood, which I was always told I do. But FTDNA didn’t list any. So I’m wondering what other mutations that you mention can also be the reason for the teeth? I don’t really know what to Google for to answer my question.

  26. I have exactly this shape of teeth, and thick hair too. I am however half European / North African (Algeria). on the Algerian side we all have thick straight hair (without baldness) and very broad cheekbones. (some of my uncles really looked like native Americans, especially when they had long hair, and they all have a hooked nose in the extension of the forehead, which I have not often seen elsewhere). on the other hand we are very hairy, not really like the Asians. I would like to know where it comes from

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