Thrifty phenotype versus cold adaptation: trade-offs in upper limb proportions of Himalayan populations of Nepal.
R Soc Open Sci
The Royal Society
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Payne, S., Kumar Bc, R., Pomeroy, E., Macintosh, A., & Stock, J. (2018). Thrifty phenotype versus cold adaptation: trade-offs in upper limb proportions of Himalayan populations of Nepal.. R Soc Open Sci, 5 (6), 172174. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.172174
The multi-stress environment of high altitude has been associated with growth deficits in humans, particularly in zeugopod elements (forearm and lower leg). This is consistent with the thrifty phenotype hypothesis, which has been observed in Andeans, but has yet to be tested in other high-altitude populations. In Himalayan populations, other factors, such as cold stress, may shape limb proportions. The current study investigated whether relative upper limb proportions of Himalayan adults (n = 254) differ between highland and lowland populations, and whether cold adaptation or a thrifty phenotype mechanism may be acting here. Height, weight, humerus length, ulna length, hand length and hand width were measured using standard methods. Relative to height, total upper limb and ulna lengths were significantly shorter in highlanders compared with lowlanders in both sexes, while hand and humerus length were not. Hand width did not significantly differ between populations. These results support the thrifty phenotype hypothesis, as hand and humerus proportions are conserved at the expense of the ulna. The reduction in relative ulna length could be attributed to cold adaptation, but the lack of difference between populations in both hand length and width indicates that cold adaptation is not shaping hand proportions in this case.
National Geographic Society; British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology; Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society; Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge; and Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.172174
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/283567
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/