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Twin Research Reveals Facial Features Most Controlled by Genetics

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A latest research uses computer image and statistical shape analysis to shed light on which facial features are most likely to be inherited.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, examined 3D face models of nearly 1,000 UK female twins, and found that the shapes of the end of the nose, the area above and below the lips, cheekbones and the inner corner of the eye were highly influenced by genetics.

The team took scans of twins’ faces using 3-D cameras and custom built statistical software to generate thousands of points that were perfectly aligned across the faces and then measured how ‘curved’ each face looked at each one of those locations.

The researchers from King’s College London,then compared how similar these facial measurements were between identical twins, who have the same genes, and non-identical twins, who only share half of the genes.

By seeing which parts of the face are the most similar in shape in a pair of identical twins, the researchers then calculated the likelihood that the shape of that part of the face is determined by genetics.

This likelihood is quantified as the “heritability,” a number between 0 and 1, where a larger number implies that it is more likely that the shape of the face is controlled by genes.

The software for analyzing 3-D scans could also have other uses in medical imaging, engineering and facial recognition technology.

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