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Tibetans inherited high-altitude genes


Posted on Saturday, 5 July, 2014 | Comment icon 11 comments

A farmer tends to his goats in the mountains. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Antoine Taveneaux
Tibetans are believed to have obtained their resilience to high altitudes from the Denisovan people.
Unacclimatized visitors to the high altitude Tibetan plateau tend to experience a host of altitude sickness related symptoms within a very short time, but for the local people who live there this otherwise inhospitable environment seems to pose little difficulty.

The origins of the adaptations that enable the Tibetans to thrive in the mountainous regions of their homeland are not entirely understood, but now a new study has revealed that these traits may have been inherited long ago from an extinct species of human.

Scientists believe that they have identified a distinct genetic connection between the modern people of Tibet and the extinct Denisovan people who had themselves only recently been discovered. The high altitude genes of the modern Tibetans are likely to have been passed down from the Denisovans following inter-species relationships in the distant past.

The find represents the first time that a gene from an extinct human species has been conclusively determined to have enabled modern humans to adapt to a hostile environment.

Source: LA Times | Comments (11)

Tags: Tibet, Denisovan

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Eldorado on 5 July, 2014, 11:39
Levi 1, Darwin 0 My bad, I thought they meant jeans.
Comment icon #3 Posted by John Wesley Boyd on 5 July, 2014, 14:30
They're not any more acclimatized than the Quechua and the Aymara of the Andes. They just adapted after generations of living at high altitude.
Comment icon #4 Posted by plaguedmedusa on 5 July, 2014, 17:07
No way would I go there, I have claustrophobia so bad that with less oxygen than Im used to having, Ill probably have a panic attack and die lol.
Comment icon #5 Posted by MyOtherAccount on 6 July, 2014, 17:43
I have genes that give me a predisposition to wanting to be high, too!
Comment icon #6 Posted by Zerocoder on 7 July, 2014, 9:14
this forum is indeed to sarcastic. OT: Seems interesting.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Silent Trinity on 9 July, 2014, 6:54
Great article! Seems that evidence of a great range of adaptation and bio-diversity if you like, exists on our humble little world. That is evolution for you, we adapt, we overcome, we survive.
Comment icon #8 Posted by toyomotor on 10 July, 2014, 4:02
They're not any more acclimatized than the Quechua and the Aymara of the Andes. They just adapted after generations of living at high altitude. But did they? If Tibetan people born with a Denisovan gene are better able to live and work in high altitudes, why could it not be that people of the Andes have the same Denisovan gene? Why could not people who live in other high altitude locations share the same gene. I don't think scientists have done enough yet to be able to rule my theory out.
Comment icon #9 Posted by MyOtherAccount on 10 July, 2014, 6:58
Darwin 1, God 0. Levi 1, Darwin 0 Darwin 1, God 1 The way Darwin saw it.
Comment icon #10 Posted by shrooma on 10 July, 2014, 7:56
They adapted after generations of living at high altitude. . ....which is how evolution works.... .
Comment icon #11 Posted by shrooma on 10 July, 2014, 8:09
Darwin 1, God 1 The way Darwin saw it. . because he was a priest. he suffered attacks of conscience over his theory, to the point of witholding publication, and then only so Alfred Wallace didn't beat him to it.... .


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