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Human nose

The nose ( Latin nasus ; ancient Greek ῥίς rhīs ) is in anatomy the organ of vertebrates that houses the nostrils (Latin nares ) and the nasal cavity . When people and most other mammals the nose is in the face center or at the front tip of the snout .

Behind the nasal cavity is the throat , into which the trachea and esophagus open from below .


The mhd. Word nose is based on ahd. Nasa and this in turn on idg. * Nas- "nose", originally probably "nostril" (cf. aind. Nā́sa nom. Dual ).

Mammalian nose

Nose of a dog
Human turbinates in a computed tomographic (CT) image

Outside, a distinction is made between the root of the nose, the bridge of the nose and the tip of the nose as well as the lateral nostrils. In humans, the nasal spinous process ( spina nasalis anterior ) lies within the root of the nose . The upper part of the bridge of the human nose is supported by the nasal bone , while the tip of the nose only contains cartilage elements for stabilization.

Anatomically, the nose belongs to the outer and upper airways . The nostrils ( nares ) lead into the inside of the nose, first into the nasal vestibule ( vestibulum nasi ), which is lined with hairy outer skin, and then into the actual nasal cavity ( cavum nasi ). The nasal cavity is divided into two separate compartments by the nasal septum ( septum nasi ) and is lined by a mucous membrane with ciliated epithelium. The left and right nasal cavities are each subdivided by the bony-supported turbinates . There are three nasal passages between the turbinates.

In humans there is a natural narrowing of the nasal entrance, which is known as the "nasal valve" ( ostium internum ). The narrowness is created between the lower edge of the triangular cartilage and the nasal septum, externally visible through a retraction above the alar cartilages, which stabilize the outer nasal entrance. A human nose in Europe is on average 5.1 cm long for women and 5.8 cm for men.

In whales , the nose has shifted to the top of the head and has closable nostrils. The nose and upper lip of the elephant have developed together into a long, muscular organ of touch and manipulation, the trunk .


Human nose in the schematic side view

Through the nose is breathing air inhaled and exhaled, said cold air on the surface of nasal mucosa heated and dry air is humidified. The nasal hairs catch coarse and the nasal secretions fine foreign particles. The nasal secretion is constantly transported towards the throat by the movement of the cilia . Excess secretion, foreign particles and allergens such as pollen can be transported to the outside in a reflex way by sneezing .

Thanks to the nose, you can breathe with your mouth closed . This is used in circular breathing . An infant who is breast-fed may inhale and exhale through the nose while drinking. All mammals (with the exception of whales and manatees ) are dependent on nasal breathing after they are born as long as they are suckled .

The human turbinates are so-called fake cavernous bodies that can change their size considerably.

In humans, nasal breathing does not take place evenly through both nostrils when the body is at rest. This process is known as the nasal cycle . The air flow through one at a time is reduced to allow regeneration of its mucous membrane. After a certain time, the main flow switches to the other nostril, which goes unnoticed with a healthy nose.

The olfactory region of the nose is the seat of the olfactory organ and thus of olfactory perception .

Evolutive development


Half-profile nose.  Light skin.  Relatively narrow.
Russian woman's nose
Short nose with large nostrils.  Dark skin color.
Nose of a boy pygmy

Climatic peculiarities may have influenced the shape of the nose through natural selection . While wide nostrils were advantageous in warm and humid tropics , longer noses with small nostrils offered an evolutionary advantage in cold and dry regions, as they could heat and humidify the air more.


The view of the meaning and function of the nose has been subject to historically changing ideas. In the 15th century, it was considered a window through which smells get into the brain. In the 18th century, it was believed that the size of the nose allows conclusions to be drawn about the size of the brain.


An extremely rare malformation one can Arrhinie occur.


Metal nose prosthesis (17th / 18th century)
Five male face profiles and their nose contours. The face and nose shapes vary like all other
body shapes and features  ( phenotypic variation )

Diseases of the nose are the subject of ear, nose and throat medicine . Interdisciplinary participants are dermatology and oral and maxillofacial surgery .

Nasal application

The nose can also serve as an access route for stimulants and addictive substances (e.g. snuff , cocaine ) and medication ( ointments , drops , sprays , inhalations , inhalation anesthetics , etc.).

Transnasal feeding tube

In artificial feeding a may patient a feeding tube through the nose (multiple word transnasally ) to be placed in the stomach, the transfer system with a tube-feeding connects that can be delivered to the patient (applied).


In different cultures, wearing jewelry in the form of nose piercings is common at different points on the nose .

Torture and war trophies

In the early Byzantine Empire, people could be excluded from imperial dignity or punished for adultery by having their noses cut off ( rhinocopia ).

In the Mimizuka , a hill in Japan, tens of thousands of cut noses were buried as trophies from the Imjin War .

Distorted perception

In 2017, the rate of nose jobs in the United States increased 13% year over year. One reason for this trend is that selfies make the nose look unusually large.

See also

Nose replanted by Karl Schönborn in 1881 (1915)

Web links

Commons : Nose  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Nose  - Quotes
Wiktionary: nose  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The dictionary of origin (=  Der Duden in twelve volumes . Volume 7 ). Reprint of the 2nd edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim 1997 ( p. 481 ). See also DWDS ( "nose" ) and Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th ed., Ed. by Walther Mitzka , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 503.
  2. Ears and nose grow constantly
  3. nasal cycle - digital dissertation from the Free University of Berlin
  4. Arslan A. Zaidi, Brooke C. Mattern, Peter Claes, Brian McEcoy, Cris Hughes, Mark D. Shriver, Greg Gibson: Investigating the case of human nose shape and climate adaptation. In: PLOS Genetics. 13, 2017, p. E1006616, doi: 10.1371 / journal.pgen.1006616 .
  5. Harald Kleinschmidt: How the nose became an olfactory organ. Lit: Münster 2012. ISBN 978-3-643-12005-2
  6. See also Jost Bendedum : The olfactory organ in ancient and medieval brain research and the reception by S. Th. Soemmerring. In: Gunter Mann, Franz Dumont (Ed.): Brain - Nerves - Soul. Anatomy and physiology in the context of S. Th. Soemmerring. Stuttgart 1988 (= Soemmerring-Forschungen. Volume 3), pp. 11-54.
  7. ^ Marianne Abele-Horn: Antimicrobial Therapy. Decision support for the treatment and prophylaxis of infectious diseases. With the collaboration of Werner Heinz, Hartwig Klinker, Johann Schurz and August Stich, 2nd, revised and expanded edition. Peter Wiehl, Marburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-927219-14-4 , pp. 105-107 ( infections of the nasal cavity ).
  8. ^ [1] - Sand M et al .: Cutaneous lesions of the nose , Head & Face Medicine
  9. Chirurgische Allgemeine , Volume 19, Volume 3 (2018), p. 124