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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: What Gets Yaks High?
1 July 2012 1:00 pm
Nomads on the Tibetan plateau have relied on yaks instead of cows as their beasts of burden for the past 4000 years. Although the two are closely related—having diverged only 4.9 million years ago, around the same time that humans and chimpanzees parted ways—the domestic yak (Bos grunniens) is superbly better adapted to the region's extreme elevations, which can exceed 4500 meters. Now researchers have uncovered the genetics behind this ability. The genome of a female domestic yak, reported online today in Nature, reveals several genes that make it better suited for heights. Three genes help the animal regulate its body's response to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, at high-altitudes, and five genes help it optimize the energy it gets from its food, which is scarce on the plateau. By understanding which genes are needed to live successfully at high elevations, the researchers say, scientists may be able to better treat and prevent altitude sickness and hypoxia-related complications such as high altitude cerebral edema and high altitude pulmonary edema, which can be fatal in humans.
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