Moving Up in the World
The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and affiliates.
If you are an active member, affiliate or individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article. Be sure you've entered your member or subscriber number on your profile page.
If you are not a member, affiliate or individual subscriber, you can:
Living at high elevation imposes some special stresses. In addition to the piercing wind and numbing cold so common of such places, residents of the Earth's high-elevation regions must cope with the chronic hypoxia that comes from breathing the thin air. Above about 2,500 meters, lowlanders experience fatigue, headache, nausea and other acute symptoms of "mountain sickness." Over the long term, residents of high elevations adapt, but they still suffer from reduced work capacity, lowered fertility and various chronic ailments. Why then did primitive peoples migrate to high-elevation regions such at the Andean altiplano and the Tibetan plateau? Anthropologists and archaeologists are piecing together the story of how, when and why these harsh locations were settled and what physiological and cultural adaptations were necessary.