July 4, 2014

ALTITUDE GENES: Tibetans didn’t get their genetic advantage from Homo sapiens. “Tibetans don’t seem to have adapted over the millennia, nor is a genetic mutation responsible for their ability: Researchers have discovered they share a gene with our hominid cousin the Denisovans, who went extinct some 40,000 years ago; their study was published in Nature yesterday. Known as EPAS1, the gene allows Tibetans to absorb scarce oxygen without creating extra red blood cells—something the rest of us mortals must deal with at altitude, and which can lead to dangerously high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, and lower birth-weight babies.”