Science fiction is full of mutant superheroes with special gifts and exceptional abilities. But in the real world some ordinary people also have special "powers" going through their genes.
There are some genetic benefits that reach a very small part of the population. They arise from spontaneous mutations – a natural process that is recorded in the DNA of affected people.
Just as some inherit genetic diseases, others inherit genes that give them abnormal abilities.
Here are five examples of "superpowers" that some people are grateful for genetics.
1. Perfect underwater vision
Most people get blurred vision when they open their eyes underwater. This is not because the water damages our eyes in some way but because of a physical problem: the water density is similar to that of the tissue that forms our eyes. Because of this, the light arrives differently from the retina.
That's why most people can only see in the air.
But there is one exception: the mokes that inhabit the Andaman Sea region, on the coast of Thailand. The tribe is called "sea gypsies" because it spends most of the year in rafts and boats. They only go ashore to load some quantities.
If you had mock genes, you can see totally underwater.
It is believed that this mutation is chosen due to the lifestyle of the tribe, which includes long-range fishing for underwater spearguns.
A study published in 2003 in the journal Science Current biology showed that the genetic mutation of the Mokken makes their eyes change shape slightly below the water.
This allows the light to distribute properly when it's lifted from the eyes – making it possible to see clearly, even over 20 meters of depth.
2. Cold tolerance
Another genetic advantage observed in some traditional peoples is the resistance to low temperatures.
The temperature of the healthy human body varies from 36.5 ° C to 37.5 ° C. That's why most of us can better cope with the hot climate than with the cold.
The normal human body can not resist extreme cold, but some human populations have this ability, thanks to their genes.
Tribes such as the Inuit who inhabite the Arctic, and the Nenets who live in northern Russia, adapt to the low temperatures.
Their bodies react differently to the cold because they have a constitution different from that of other people.
For example, they do not tremble like the rest of us. They have less sweat glands (which produce sweat); their skins are thicker than normal; and your metabolism is faster than that of other people.
These are genetic traits: even if you move to the middle of the North Pole and live there for decades, you will not get the same genetic mutations from this people.
3. Less sleep
One feature that you can have, even if you do not belong to a particular ethnic group, is to function well even with fewer hours of sleep than the average person.
Several studies have shown that most people have to sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night to have a sense of body and mind.
Sleeping less than necessary can cause health problems, as well as psychological problems such as lack of concentration.
However, a research published in 2014 with non-identical twins allowed the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to identify a genetic mutation that allows some people to require fewer hours of sleep.
People with a mutation in the DEC2 gene have a more intense REM sleep phase, making their break more effective.
With six hours sleep or less, these people already feel completely rested and ready to face the next day.
Still, researchers point out that this is a mutation that affects a very small part of the world's population – less than 1% of those who say they sleep a little.
For this reason, if you are dreaming very little and you think everything is fine and you have to be the carrier of this genetic mutation, know that this is probably not true: you will most likely need more hours of sleep.
4. Thick bones
Here's a genetic advantage that looks like a superhero exit.
In most people, bones lose their density and mass as we get older. The problem is known as osteoporosis and can cause bone fractures and deformities.
But some people have a mutation in the gene called SOST that regulates the production of a protein called sclerotin. This is the protein that controls the production and growth of bones.
A study by researchers in Washington (USA) found evidence that there are some people with mutations in the SOST gene and that they do not lose bone because they grow.
Their bones continue to gain mass and become more dense throughout their lives, giving them a skeleton that resembles that of a much younger person.
This mutation in the SOST gene is found in some people of African descent (which is the way the descendants of the former Dutch colonists from South Africa are known).
Researchers are now looking for ways to replicate the effects of this mutation to enable others to achieve the same benefits.
5. Adapting to heights
Andean communities have the word about the lack of air felt by people at high altitudes: soroche. Anyone who has ever felt this evil will certainly not forget the word.
Best of all, soroche, or worse than heights, usually causes nausea, low blood pressure, headaches and respiratory problems.
There are a lot of tricks to minimize the effects: moving slowly, eating a little, not doing much physical exercise, and chewing the coca leaves. Some people also use medicines. However, many people continue to suffer.
But "mountain sickness" does not affect the traditional population of mountainous areas.
Studies conducted with the people of Quechua (from the Andes) and Himalayan Tibetans have shown that they have genetically adapted adaptations to live in these circles.
They have a chest cell larger than the average and have a larger lung capacity that allows them to absorb more oxygen with each breath.
Moreover, while most people start to produce more red blood cells (oxygen-carrying blood) under these low oxygen conditions, they produce less.
These characteristics persist even when one of these populations moves to a lower altitude because it is listed in their DNA.
These mutations do not make them "superheroes". But it may be thought that these local rulers have superpowers when they see them climbing up the mountain as tourist groups creep slowly towards the top.
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