Researchers at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, in a study of almost 10,000 individuals, have discovered five genes responsible for facial shape in humans, the BBC reported Thursday.
They used magnetic resonance imaging of people's heads to map facial configurations then conducted a genetic study to search for small genetic variations found in people with particular facial shape types.
"These are exciting first results that mark the beginning of the genetic understanding of human facial morphology," Erasmus lead researcher Manfred Kayser said.
"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 research follows other recent studies, one suggesting DNA can also predict hair and eye color and a second that said age could be inferred from blood samples.