Tibetans Can Thank Ancient Humans for Gene That Lets Them Live the High Life
High-altitude adaptation may have come from interbreeding with Neanderthal relatives.
One of the most remarkable human adaptations has an origin that's not precisely human.
The physiological ability of ethnic Tibetans to thrive at miles-high elevations, unaffected by oxygen levels that leave lowlanders gasping, appears to have originated with Denisovans, a close relative of Neanderthals.
Following on the news earlier this year that many modern humans have quite a bit of Neanderthal DNA, the finding is the latest example of the complex anthropological tapestry that is our genome. It also hints at a perhaps underappreciated reason for Homo sapiens' tremendous success: After leaving Africa, our ancestors picked up traits from the locals.
"Maybe this happened many times throughout human history, and we just happened to detect it