According to a newly released study published in the journal, Nature, many modern Tibetans are carrying a gene (acquired through interbreeding with the extinct Denisovan species of humans) that facilitates their living at high altitudes. Per the article:
....The gene allows Tibetans to adapt to high altitudes of 15,000 feet or more, researchers found. “We have very clear evidence that this version of the gene came from Denisovans,” said principal author Rasmus Nielsen, a Berkeley professor of integrative biology, in a press release. Denisovans were a mysterious human relative that went extinct 40,000-50,000 years ago, around the same time as the more well-known Neanderthals, under pressure from modern humans. “This shows very clearly and directly that humans evolved and adapted to new environments by getting their genes from another species,” Nielsen said. That’s significant because it means we are all probably mutts, descended from more than one species of human. Homo sapiens didn’t just evolve and somehow lead to all modern humans today. Homo sapiens instead interbred with other species seemingly wherever they met, from Africa to Europe to, in this case, Asia. What’s new and particularly interesting about this study is that it’s the first time a gene from another species of human has been shown unequivocally to help modern humans adapt to their environment....
John, that's a great topic!
Humans are so complicated, in that we are hybrids of different hominids, which gave us the ability to adapt and thrive in conditions different from our first origins.
I can't help but think this diversity is what helps us prosper. And I feel the same way about societies that innovate and prosper - cross roads of cultures and peoples. Instead of people becoming isolationist, I posit that they will do better by embracing and merging with the cultures and ethnic groups that they encounter. I know that's a stretch coming from this story, but it serves as one example of how such intermingling can be beneficial.
This is great. Now, David-Neel's tales of witnessing miraculous gifts of Tibetans, such as warming themselves from within (like a microwave?) can probably be understood by scientific research. David-Neel thought it had something to do with their being Buddhist.