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Unlocking the Mystery of Tibetan Resilience: Scientists Attribute Survival to Diet


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The chemical composition of the teeth of the ancient inhabitants of the mountainous region of China in Tibet showed that the breeding of dairy cows was widespread in hard-to-reach places.

An international team of chemists has discovered the first physical evidence that Tibetan mountain dwellers have adapted to live at high altitudes, raising cows for milk and possessing genes that allow them to digest dairy products. This was reported by the press service of the German Institute for Geosciences.

“Our study showed a very clear trend, as milk proteins were only present in the teeth of ancient people who lived in the high mountain steppes in the west and north of Tibet, where crops could not be grown,” said Tang Li, a researcher at the institute. He added that such effects do not happen. In the central and southeastern valleys, the most suitable for agriculture.

And the chemical composition of the teeth of people who lived in the highlands of Tibet about 3,500 years ago showed that the breeding of dairy cows was widespread in hard-to-reach areas at an altitude of 3.7-4.65 thousand meters above sea level. And the teeth of almost all the inhabitants of the region contain proteins that form the basis of goat and sheep milk, which was not typical for the inhabitants of the lowlands and valleys, who ate mainly plant foods.

The widespread use of milk among the inhabitants of the mountainous Tibetan Plateau, according to researchers, indicates that dairy cows played one of the most important roles in the adaptation of Tibetans to life in areas unsuitable for agriculture. This is also indicated by genetic variations often found in the fossil DNA of ancient Tibetans, which are necessary for the digestion of dairy products.

It is noteworthy that the Tibetan Plateau is one of the least favorable places for human life on the planet, as it is located at an altitude of 4300 km, and its lands have a very harsh climate, especially in the central and southern regions near the highest peaks of the Himalayas.

Geneticists have recently discovered that the unique conditions of life in Tibet has accelerated the evolution of its population and caused them to acquire unique genetic differences in a very short time that help them better tolerate cold and lack of oxygen.

Source: TASS

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