Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Zulus and Andean Indians

 Lets approach the Zulus first

1. The Zulu people live in the Natal Province of South Africa a fairly harsh climate with an average  temperature of 16-33 C with only 464mm per year which falls below the world wide average, a whopping 320 sunny days a year.  the weather is generally sunny and hot with thunderstorms that often clear quickly and there is not too much variation in seasons. over all South Africa is cooler than other countries in similar latitudes due to its higher elevation. The weather can be inhospitable if one is in a drought and has little access to water, a good rule of thumb is you can survive three weeks with out food and three days without water. 
2. a physical adaptation they do have would be cause by the latitude in which they live, due the the high amounts of UV radiation their skin reacts accordingly so and produces eumelanin. This in turn makes their skin darker and help protect them from UV damage but also protects from folic acid damage which can cause neural defects in children and also effects fertility, both of which can decimate a population.    
3. The Zulu live in a very hostile environment and one which has seen much turmoil and people killing indiscriminately. In order to adapt to this they have formed a very tight nite clan which is basically an extended family that can help protect the members. Having this clan set up also allows the members to divide task to make them simpler on everyone.  
4. Race: I'm not entirely sure what you want from this, they are south Africans so i guess they remind me of Africans

Andean Indian time
 1. This includes the indigenous people of the Andes mountains in South America. a fairly harsh climate which can range from tropical to Sub arctic tundras. the temperature can vary from freeze cold to rainforest humidity and temperature, although less people live in the southern regions. Due the high humidity which makes sweat evaporation impossible, which is our main way to thermoregulate we can easily over heat and suffer heat stroke and become dehydrated, humidity can also make simple infections horrendous such as something GIs are pretty fond of, trenchfoot. The bitter cold also makes for a hard time, we need just as much water in the cold as we do in the hot but we often neglect that. Frost bite and hypothermia are also pretty common in weather like that where weather turns on a dime.
2. There are plenty of neat adaptions including changes in hair follicles but the one i find interesting is RBC in a total CBC. The higher elevation wreaks havoc on your body, altitude sickness besides beating the worst hang over in your life could potentially kill. in order to combat this these people have developed a higher red blood cell count compared to someone of a lower elevation. This isn't a totally unique adaption  it's share with virtually all mountain people but its fairly intriguing how fast it can change. if the people were to return to a lower elevation their RBC would drop. This higher RBC helps their body deal with the lack of oxygen and helps their bodies adapt, along with blood cells that dilate which is the hunters reflex and anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors with wet hands can develop.
3. The andean's   cultural adaptation would most likely be the fact they will farm to survive. instead of either trading or foraging they choose crops that are important to their lifestyles, potatoes are a huge one and also come from this area. they do well in the colder climates and a big food staple. in the colder climates in can be all they survive one. the warmer climates have it much easier when it comes to farming and they often do slash and burn farming methods. 
4. The race they would remind me of would be  Sherpas because of their hard lifestyle and adaptations the cold and high altitude. 

Summary-    Well i think outward appearance doesn't count for much there are not real bounties on the people they describe. Ill always tend to side with adaptation to describe a population simply because it makes more sense to me. a population is a select group of people and and they can look different. My family is Lakota, part of the Sioux nation, which I'm a little disappointed it wasn't a choice for the project. By the outward looks most people would most likely classify me as a tan white boy.  

1. ;
2. Human Genetics two semesters ago


  1. Overall, very good post. Good descriptions and your final analysis was very good. Your identification of the red blood cell count was excellent, just make sure you spell out the words fully in future posts so all can follow your explanation without guessing the meaning of "RBC" and "CBC".

    A couple of points:

    The cultural adaptation of the Zulu that you identify is not an adaption to the natural environment you identify in the first paragraph. It is an adaptation to sociopolitical environment of aggression. Can you think of a cultural adaptation that helps them adjust to the natural stresses you have identified?

    A minor point: "Sherpas" are not really a race, it is more of a profession.

  2. You seem to know a lot about the human body, which is very interesting to read when you were describing the physical adaptations. And of course I have to agree with you in your last paragraph, adaptations make more sense, race does not tell you much. It just tells you skin color, that's about it, but if you understand why people look a certain way it makes more sense.

  3. Hey Zachary!

    Just like you I brought up the fact that the Andean Indians have a high amount of red blood cell (hemoglobin) however the point where I disagree with you is not so much about that physical adaptation but the mechanism behind it that you mention. You mention that if they were to come back down to normal sea level altitude, they would have a decrease in red blood cell count, however if this is a physical adaption, specifically one that involves genetic components, wouldn't it take generations for this trait of high hemoglobin to come back down to levels found in low altitude individuals? True, the body has many different mechanisms for the immediate homeostasis of hemoglobin levels like certain hormones produced by the kidney, however what about the long term effects? I know this is starting to tread into physical anthropology but if we were to analyze the hemoglobin levels of the offspring on an Andean Indian who had traveled to live at a lower altitude, my guess would be that that child would poses still high levels of hemoglobin reflective of the physical adaptation to high altitudes.