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Tibetans handle high altitudes much better than most people. New research pinpoints the genes that allow them to breathe easily on mountain peaks, and avoid deadly side-effects.
The people of Tibet are essentially Fremen of the heights. Evolutionary pressure has created a population of people that have a distinct set of physiological traits that help with the dangers of high altitude: decreased arterial oxygen content (low levels of oxygen in the blood), increased resting ventilation (rapid breathing while resting), lack of hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (meaning blood vessels don't constrict when oxygen content of the blood is low), lower incidence of reduced birth weight, and reduced hemoglobin concentration (hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen from lungs or gills to the body). Put together, this means that Tibetans have evolved to function with far less oxygen in their blood than other people - perfect for high altitudes with low oxygen.