Extinct human genes helped Tibetans to cope with high altitudes

Extinct human genes helped Tibetans to cope with high altitudes

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Secret to Tibetans coping with lack of oxygen discovered.

A recent US study has revealed that the gene which allows Tibetans to cope with life in high altitude mountains came from the extinct species of humans. Many of the Tibetans are known to carry a special blood diluting gene which allows them to cope with the lack of Oxygen in high mountains.

tibetans

Human bodies accustomed to normal climatic conditions do not have this genetic capability, thus leading to the development thick blood amounting to high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes.

Scientists have found that Tibetans carry a version of a gene in their DNA which belonged to the Denisovans – relatives of the modern day humans who lived 50,000 years back.

At elevated heights of 13,000 feet the common form of the gene boosts hemoglobin and red blood cell production which can cause dangerous side effects.

The Denisovans are known from a single finger bone and two teeth found in a Siberian cave. Ramus Neilson, a computational biology professor at University of California, Berkeley said, “Our finding may suggest that the exchange of genes through mating with extinct species may be more important in human evolution than previously thought”.

The researchers added that the study is the first to show how a gene from an archaic human species has helped modern humans adjust to different living conditions.

Photo Credits: Live science