Tibetans' high-altitude skills came via extinct cousin
Published on Jul 3, 2014 1:22 AM
PARIS (AFP) - Tibetans are able to live at high altitude thanks to a special gene they inherited from a mysterious, now-extinct branch of the human family, scientists reported on Wednesday.
The ancestors of today's Tibetans acquired a key variant of a gene regulating oxygen in the blood when they mated with a species of human called the Denisovans, they said.
Contemporaries of the Neanderthals - and like them, possibly wiped out by anatomically modern man, Homo sapiens - the Denisovans first came to light only four years ago.
Their existence was determined through a piece of finger bone and two molars unearthed at the Denisova Cave in southern Siberia's Altai Mountains and dated to some 80,000 years ago.
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