LivingWhy do we have two nostrils instead of one?

Why do we have two nostrils instead of one?

Although having two ears or two eyes is intuitively effective because it allows us to sense much better what is happening around us , why is it necessary that we have two nostrils instead of one?

Thanks to our two eyes, we can better gauge how far away objects are: the brain combines the two visual stimuli from both eyes to produce a more three-dimensional image of the world. On the other hand, we can detect the origin of a sound if it sounds louder in our right or left ear.

However, does having two nostrils allow us to capture smells in a richer way? Some researchers think so, but the advantage of having two graves goes much further.

Dogs have two nostrils because, as a result, they can record separate air samples with each nostril, allowing them to compare them with each other in order to establish the provenance of a particular scent.

This olfactory spatial perception also seems to have been studied in snakes, as explained by Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith in their book An Elevator to Space : “The snake extends its forked tongue to capture chemicals in saliva. He then rubs his tongue against two indentations in the roof of his mouth and the saliva penetrates into two lumps known as vomeronasal organs, where the chemicals taken up by saliva are analyzed ”.

In humans, however, what makes it possible to have two nostrils instead of one is the possibility of alternating which one to breathe through at any given time, which makes it easier for neither of them to become too dry . That is, if we only had one pit and it dried or plugged, we would have no alternative but to breathe with difficulty. On the contrary, if we have two and one dries, we will still have the other to breathe properly, in the event that it continues to be wet.

This is particularly important if we want to prevent the nasal tissue from being damaged or not working properly.

So that the nose is free of obstacles in order to breathe and smell, while the lower respiratory system is partially sterilized, we have mucus and cilia , a kind of microscopic brushes that push the mucus towards the mouth at a speed average 6 millimeters per minute, either to spit it out or to swallow it. Part of this mucus, two or three liters every 24 hours, ends up being ingested and serves to replace the gastrointestinal mucosa.

This mucus also serves to trap dust particles and other elements that could get inside our body, including bacteria. The movement of the cilia is important to drag everything to the stomach, therefore, if they work slowly (for example, because it is very cold), the probability that we will catch a cold increases .

So, in order that the system always works optimally, according to research from the United States National Library of Medicine, our nostrils are alternately plugged and unclogged. “At all times there is one nostril more willing to absorb air than the other thanks to the nasal venous sinusoids, which alternately undergo swelling in a process called the nasal cycle.”

Some experts point out that another reason why this occurs daily is that our sense of smell is also optimized, because some smells are better registered if they enter the nostril quickly, and others are better appreciated if there is a slight congestion involved.

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