Dry earwax? It's an Asian thing.
Via my friend Kate Muhl and the New York Times, I'm now aware that:
- I'm apparently related to some guy who looks like Jesse Ventura pulling a racist Asian caricature-face,
- My dry earwax is race-based, and
- I have EDAR. Which sounds as if it should be like gaydar, only for consumer electronics. A very Asian trait, I suppose. (It's actually a gene complex that codes for thick hair.)
Wet earwax is believed to have uses in insect trapping, self-cleaning, and prevention of dryness in the external auditory canal of the ear. It also produces an odor and causes sweating, which may play a role as a pheromone. The usefulness of dry earwax, however, is not well understood. Researchers believe it may have originated to prevent less odor and sweating, a possible adaptation to the cold climate that the population is believed to have lived in.
Earwax type and armpit odor are correlated, since populations with dry earwax, such as those of East Asia, tend to sweat less and have little or no body odor, whereas the wet earwax populations of Africa and Europe sweat more and so may have greater body odor. Several Asian features, such as small nostrils and the fold of fat above the eyelid, are conjectured to be adaptations to the cold. Less sweating, the Japanese authors suggest, may be another adaptation to the cold climate in which the ancestors of East Asian peoples are thought to have lived.