Saturday , April 17 2021

Five genetic advantages that very few people have [Ciencia] – 18/11/2018

London.- Science fiction is filled with superheroes who have supernatural gifts. But the truth is that some ordinary humans also have special powers and often do not know.

It is about genetic advantages that a very small portion of the population has.

These advantages come from gene mutation, a natural process that is altering our DNA.

Just as some inherit genetic diseases, others are luckier and inherit genes that give them unusual abilities.

BBC World gives us five examples of some of the advantages you could have thanks to your genes.

1. Perfect Underwater Vision

Most of us see it all blurred if we open our eyes when we are submerged in the water.

This is due to a problem in physics: the density of water is similar to that of the ocular fluid and the refracted light can not penetrate well into the eye.

That is why humans can only see well when in contact with air.

But there is one exception: the Moken people, who inhabit the Andaman Sea, a sector of the Indian Ocean between Burma and Thailand.

This tribe is known as the "gypsies of the sea" because they spend most of the year living in huts in the water or on boats, and only go to land to stock up on supplies.

If you have genes, you can see crystalline under water.

It is believed that this genetic mutation arose because the Moken spend a lot of time submerged, collecting food from the seabed and fishing on the seabed.

Scientific research published in 2003 in Current Biology revealed that the Moken's genetic mutation causes their eyes to change shape under water.

This allows the light to refrate properly when it enters your eyes and makes it possible for you to see clearly, even submerged more than 20 meters below the water.

2. Cold tolerance

Another genetic advantage observed in some native peoples has to do with the ability to withstand low temperatures.

The human body has a normal temperature range that varies between 36.5 and 37.5 ℃. That is why most humans are better prepared to deal with hot climates than with cold climates.

A normal body can not withstand extreme cold. But there are some populations that have this ability, thanks to their special genes.

Tribes such as the Inuit, who inhabit the Arctic, or the Nenets, who live in northern Russia, have adapted to freezing temperatures.

Their bodies respond differently to cold because they are biologically constituted differently from the rest.

For example, they do not shake cold, have fewer sweat glands, their skin is much hotter than normal and their metabolism has much higher rates.

These abilities are purely genetic: if you move to the middle of the North Pole and live there for decades, you will not be able to acquire the incredible abilities of the people who carry those mutations.

3. Fewer hours of sleep

One skill you could have, without belonging to any tribe, is to work well with fewer hours of sleep than usual.

Several studies have shown that most people need to sleep between 7 and 9 hours to feel rested.

Sleeping less can cause problems of concentration and physical and mental health.

However, a study of twins in 2014 led the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to discover that there is a genetic mutation that allows some people to need fewer hours of sleep.

People with the mutated DEC2 gene have the ability to have more intense REM sleep, which makes their rest more effective.

With 6 hours of sleep or less, you feel completely rested and ready to face the day.

However, experts point out that this mutation affects an extremely small proportion of people – less than 1% of people reporting poor sleep.

That's why, if you sleep a little and think you'll be fine, because you may have the genetic mutation, it's more likely that it will not be like that and you need more rest.

4. Dense bones

This advantage seems to come out of a superhero comic book. The character could be called "the man or woman with the strong bones".

Most of our skeletons are losing bone density and mass as we age. It is known as osteoporosis and can lead to fractures and bone deformities.

But there are some people who have a mutation in a gene called SOST, which controls the protein sclerostin, which regulates and controls bone growth.

A study conducted by Chiroscience research and development scientists in Bothell, Washington, found that those who have this mutation do not lose bone mass as they age.

Your bones continue to accumulate density and mass with the passage of time, giving them the skeleton of a much younger person.

This mutation was found in some people of Afrikaner origin, as the populations of Dutch origin living in South Africa are known.

Scientists are now looking for ways to replicate this mutation to allow others to reverse the aging of their skeletons.

5. Adaptation to heights

The Andean communities call it "soroche" and those who suffered will not easily forget. It is the discomfort that is felt at high altitudes by the lack of oxygen.

This altitude sickness or mountain sickness usually causes dizziness, low blood pressure, headache and respiratory disorders.

There are many tricks that are advised to avoid it: move slowly, eat little, do not make great efforts, chew coca. Some turn to medications. But the truth is that even so many fall "sharpened."

However, it is not a problem that affects the populations living in the mountains.

Studies on Andean Quechua and Himalayan Tibetans have shown that they have genetic advantages that allow them to adapt to their environment.

Their torsos are larger and have greater lung capacity, which allows them to incorporate more oxygen at each breath.

And while most people produce more red blood cells when their body receives little oxygen, they produce less.

These characteristics are retained even when these populations move to lower places since they are part of their genes.

Perhaps this mutation does not officially make them "superheroes", but more than a tourist struggling to climb a mountain to the rhythm of an ant and is surpassed by a place that rises – sometimes carrying several bags – surely believes to have superpowers .

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