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Nature & Environment

Mutation helps Bajau people stay underwater

By T.K. Randall
April 19, 2018 · Comment icon 7 comments

How long can you hold your breath ? Image Credit: YouTube / BBC
In a rare case of natural selection in modern humans, the free-diving Bajau people have developed a larger spleen.
Native to Malaysia and the Philippines, the Bajau are renowned for their incredible ability to remain underwater for minutes at a time to catch fish and other creatures directly off the sea floor.

On some days, fishermen can remain underwater for a cumulative total of more than five hours.

Now researchers who have been attempting to find out what enables this remarkable talent have discovered that a genetic mutation appears to have given the Bajau an abnormally large spleen.
This adaptation is beneficial as the spleen is known to release oxygenated red blood cells, thus making it possible to stay underwater for longer.

The study authors are hoping that the discovery could help with the development of new treatments for respiratory illnesses.

"Overall, our results suggest that the Bajau have undergone unique adaptations associated with spleen size and the diving response, adding new examples to the list of remarkable genetic adaptations humans have experienced in recent evolutionary history," they wrote.



Source: Gizmodo | Comments (7)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Kismit 6 years ago
The Bajau people are facinating.  I watched a documentary recently on thier lives. Thier traditional economic system is very interesting. Every villager is granted a sweet potato seed when they are old enough and it is up to how hard they work or don't as to how they survive.  Elders in the village do anual trips to nieghbouring islands to forge friendships in order to give aide or recieve it in times of need. It is quite socialist, a little bit brutal, but was effective for a very long time before we brought tourism and a high value dollar to thier doorstep.
Comment icon #2 Posted by third_eye 6 years ago
Up close and personal ... ~ [00.22:01] ~
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 6 years ago
Either that, or they are Deep One Hybrids. :D
Comment icon #4 Posted by Katniss 6 years ago
Amazing. They're almost superhuman.
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Descendants of the Atlantians that were able to escape when Atlantis sunk?   Interesting about the spleen, but if they only have normal-sized lungs, I'd think more is going on.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Not A Rockstar 6 years ago
yeah I know that with training and work you can greatly increase your ability to hold your breath but these folks are really way better than just that. I wonder what percentage the spleen increase adds to the time in itself. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Eternallife 6 years ago
Would this be considered evidence for evolution? As they have adapted to their extreme environment for free deep sea diving.


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