Morphological Signatures of High-Altitude Adaptations in the Andean Archaeological Record and the Challenges of Distinguishing Developmental Plasticity from Genetic Adaptations
Author(s): Karen Weinstein
High-altitude hypoxia, cold ambient temperatures, and malnutrition are critical environmental stressors affecting living human populations in the highland Andes. Decades of scholarship in human biology explain the complex physiological responses that provide adaptive fitness to living human groups at high altitudes through both developmental acclimatization, in which the human body adjusts to environmental stress during growth, and genetic adaptations from natural selection. Given the longevity of human settlement in the highland Andes, these same biological responses ought to have affected ancient Andean groups. This paper uses the biology of living humans from the highland Andes as a model to explore the morphological signatures of biological adaptations to high-altitude environments in ancient human skeletons from different elevations in the Andes: two groups from coastal regions, one group from moderate elevations in the Atacama Desert, and one group from high elevations in the southern Peruvian highlands. This examination focuses on distinguishing developmental plasticity due to acclimatization that can develop in a single generation from genetic adaptations that arise through natural selection. Gene flow, natural selection, and developmental plasticity each factors into the emergence of the biology of ancient populations at high altitudes in the Andean archaeological record.
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Morphological Signatures of High-Altitude Adaptations in the Andean Archaeological Record and the Challenges of Distinguishing Developmental Plasticity from Genetic Adaptations. Karen Weinstein. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404044)
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min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;