MadSci Network: Genetics

Re: How rare is it in humans to have a third breast?

Date: Wed May 19 18:20:21 1999
Posted By: David Beck, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Genetics
ID: 925251494.Ge


	I have asked a doctor about this. If you are actually talking about a person 
having a third breast then this is EXTREMELY unusual. But if you are talking 
about a person having a second SET of nipples then this is not uncommon. When 
you compare humans to other mammals - such as dogs, cats, pigs - you will notice 
that most mammals have a row of nipples extending from the top of the chest to 
the pelvis, each nipple occurs as a pair with another nipple that is equally 
distant from the top of the chest. In humans and other hominids - such as apes - 
this is not the case. But the ability to have multiple sets of nipples is still 
coded in the genes. For some reason humans and apes do not form multiple pairs 
of nipples - likely this is because humans and other hominids have small litters 
and so do not need more than one set of nipples to meet the needs of the 
offspring for milk. But if humans have a mutation in the gene that causes them 
to only have one set of nipples then then they can have multiple sets of 
nipples. Usually only one set actually develops into breasts, and often the 
second set of nipples is not noticed - ie extremely poorly developped. 

David Beck

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