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.
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:)
Oh my. My dentist noticed my teeth and put the file on them to smooth them down bc sometimes they rubbed against my tongue. I will say I think I have those characteristics so when I get my DNA done I will check. Only thing is, when it comes back G, what am I gonna do? I’ve known I’m Indian all my life. So what am I going to tell all of those naysayers who go on line and say I’m a phony! I guess I can have them call you Roberta and you give them down the country!
I just have to respond. I lost my two front teeth at the age of 10 and have had caps etc since then but have one little perfect shovel tooth left. When I had my last plate made and it was costing me dearly, I finally asked if I could have the front teeth “curved” in the back because my tongue missed the shape. They did, I was thrilled but I have lost two more teeth and just two weeks ago consented to an entire upper plate. I asked if they could “shape” the front teeth” and this dentist really ignored me. I had the impressions made and was asked to pick out a “shape” and was not happy with any of them and could tell the tech was not happy with me and I left defeated. I returned a few days ago for the wax bit which the dentist did and then he had me put in my partial and said, “Wow, that’s amazing. Do you like these teeth?” I indignantly came back with “yes, they are the best shape I have ever had”. He responded with “I like them too. Can we make your impressions again with the partial in and copy them”… I am so happy, I am getting my shovel teeth back and my tongue is ecstatic. To bad it is too late to worry about the small boobs.
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GA. on rs3827760:) Thanks, Roberta!
Got 23 and me for Mother’s Day, so I can finally check this out, have all but the sweats gland thing. Can’t wait.
That’s a great Mother’s Day gift.
Another thing I forgot to add my Haplogroup is U5a2a.
I first learned about “Indian teeth” from an ex who was part Cherokee, and I pooh-poohed it. I said, “That can’t be right, because my teeth are like that, and I’m as white as they come.” She insisted that if I had the scoop-shaped incisors, I must have some native heritage, and a year later when I found out my great-grandmother was Cherokee, she had a great time saying I Told You So.
But I didn’t know about the single-rooted premolar until I read this. As it happens, I had those teeth extracted for orthodontia when I was 12, and they sat on my desk in a little box for years. So I know exactly what they looked like – they looked precisely like the tooth in “Figure one.”
You learn something new every day.
Ha – I saved my premolars and thought they all looked like that, too.
I agree with Vivian–I would miss my front teeth something awful if they were replaced with straight ones!
I have the shovel teeth (and a little Native ancestry), but in the other EDAR traits I’m the opposite type. Must be a different sort of sinodonty mutation (unless there’s something complicated going on involving traits from the other side of the family).
Yep, I have the Sinodonty teeth and I have Lakota on Father’s side (and some Cherokee on my Mother’s). Before digital X-rays, the dentist would numb my whole jaw trying to find the nerve to the tooth (yes, they’re wired differently also) And sweating? Yeah, that’s true also.
The sinodonty is a strong gene and will come through even if your native heritage is back 7 to 10 generations even.
I have all except the sweaty thing although I find that changing as I get older. Daniel I have the wiring issue too,’ How much novocain do you need lady?’ haha