Scientists use 3D MRI scans to look at various facial landmarks, confirming five genes that are responsible for various face-shape traits.
Researchers have moved one step closer to facial reconstruction with DNA by discovering the genes that help control the width of the human face.
A recent study of almost 10,000 individuals revealed five genes associated with different facial shapes - known as PRDM16, PAX3, TP63, C5orf50, and COL17A1.
Manfred Kayser and his team of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of people's heads to map facial landmarks and estimate facial distances.
A genome-wide association study was then conducted to find out small genetic variations that occur more frequently in people with particular facial types.
"These are exciting first results that mark the beginning of the genetic understanding of human facial morphology,” the state-funded BBC quoted Kayser as saying.
"Perhaps some time it will be possible to draw a phantom portrait of a person solely from his or her DNA left behind, which provides interesting applications such as in forensics."
The new findings can help scientists better understand facial abnormalities and someday might even help forensic investigators use a criminal suspect’s DNA to determine what he looks like.