I wonder if it's genetic

Stense snarling to the right.

Stense does a rather wicked Elvis snarl. I can do an Elvis snarl too, but it's nowhere near as wicked.

While I was trying to brush up on my technique in the bathroom mirror the other day, it suddenly dawned on me that I can only do an Elvis snarl on the right-hand side. Or should that be right-lip side? If I try to do an Elvis snarl on the left-lip side, it looks like I'm having a stroke.

I wonder if it's genetic which side you do an Elvis snarl on.

Interestingly, I am right-handed and Stense is left-handed, but we both snarl to the right. I haven't asked Stense if she can snarl to the left as well, but I did ask Fitz. It turns out Fitz used to practise his Elvis snarls in the mirror too, and he's the same as me: right-handed, and can only snarl to the right.

Admit it, you're testing your own Elvis snarl right now, aren't you? Fascinating, isn't it?

Jen, on the other lip, can snarl either way. Jen is also right-handed, but she doesn't have any earlobes. Whether you have earlobes or not is definitely genetic: I read it in a magazine. None of Jen's family has earlobes.

Jen, Fitz and I can all curl our tongues, which is also genetic: we can stick out our tongues and curl the sides in to make a tube. Stense, however, cannot curl her tongue to make a tube. She has recessive genes. Here is a photo of Stense wearing her recessive genes. Sorry, I mean jeans—different thing entirely (but still well worth a look).

Jen and Stense are both women. Fitz and I are both men. A person's sex is pretty much genetically determined. So is their right- or left-handedness.

A study reported in New Scientist this week indicates that musical ability is not genetically determined: it's all about hard graft and practice, apparently. I wonder if Elvis-snarls are down to hard graft and practice too. I doubt it, because Fitz says he has tried and tried to snarl to the left—and so have I—but Jen could do it straight away without any practice at all. I reckon it must be linked to her earlobes. The ones she hasn't got, I mean.

Fitz is an extremely talented musician—and so are Stense and her sister—but I couldn't play a musical instrument to save my life (no matter how hard I practised). Jen used to play the cornet, but I don't think she had any natural flair for it—not even with her ambidextrous lips. Elvis Presley was a good singer, but only a mediocre guitar-player. I think I saw him playing the bongos once, poorly.

Stense does have earlobes, though.

How about you?

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. Stense has just left the building. Exit stage left already! (was that from Deputy Dawg?)

  2. Right handed, left lip only, male, not highly musical, short-sighted, tall, earlobes present, drinks bitter rather than lager, A+ (CSE French - no, I mean blood group), can't roll my tongue, greenish brown eyes... anything else you want for this study? How about relative lengths of fingers? They're developmentally determined or something. I bet it's that.

    I hope you will be giving us a full stastical analysis in due course.

  3. Ga! I didn't think of eye-colour! Stense and I have blue eyes, Jen brown. Can't say I've noticed Fitz's or Elvis's.

    Saw Carolyn yesterday: she's a blue-eyed, earlobed, right-handed, right snarl only tongue-curler who could never taste that special chemical they used to give you to see if you could taste it. Remember that? You would if you'd tasted it!

  4. wasn't exit stage left (sorry to go back to the beginning but I was worried that it might be nagging at Nite Owl) Snagglepuss (also Hanna Barbera though)?

  5. oh yes - and if you can't roll your tongue, isn't that the true definition of tongue tied?

  6. I am right handed can play an instrument and my Elvis snarl is on the left side I can't sing that well and I'm a female I've tried to do the snarl on the left hand side but no matter how hard I try it never happens does this help with some of your research

  7. Being "tongue tied" is a congential defect defined by a limited mobility of the tongue caused by a short frenulum; not the inability to roll your tongue. Aside from that I am right handed and have a mean left sided snarl. I am completely unable to snarl on my right side no matter how hard I try. I can also roll my tongue and flip it left and right. I sing well, I play no instruments, and I have blue eyes and blonde hair, and I exit stage left, eeeveeeen.

  8. I can do the lips curl and make it twitch too if I want I also can to the cloverleaf curl with my tongue in addition to that I can raise either eyebrow up on its own. I don’t know if it genetic but i did teach my son to do the cloverleaf and he can raise his brows too. I myself and right handed and with brown eyes and I am female.

  9. Sorry I forgot to add my lips curl is on the left side only while I am right handed.

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