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Adaptation, variation and Change

Adaptation refers to the processes by which organisms cope with environmental forces and stresses such as those posed by climate and topography, or  terrains also called landforms. Humans use biological means of adaptation. But humans are unique in also having cultural means of adaptation. Mountainous terrains pose particular challenges those associated with high altitude and oxygen deprivation. There are three ways of adapting biologically to high altitudes : genetic adaptation and short term physiological adaptation. Native populations of high attitude areas such as the Andes of Peru and the Himalayas of Tibet and Nepal seem to have acquired certain genetic advantages for life at a very high altitudes. The Andean tendency to develop a voluminous chest and lungs probably has a genetic basis. Second, people who grow up at a high altitude become physiologically more efficient there than genetically similar people who have grown up at sea level would be. This illustrates long term physiological adaptation during the body’s growth and development. Third, humans also have the capacity for short term or immediate physiological adaptation. When low landers arrive in the highlands they immediately increase their breathing and heart rates. Hyperventilation increases the oxygen in their lungs and arteries. All these varied adaptive responses -cultural and biological achieve a single goal ,maintaining an adequate supply of oxygen to the body. The social and cultural means of adaptation have become increasingly important. In this process ,humans have devised diverse ways of coping with the range of environments they have occupied. The rate of cultural adaptation and change has accelerated particularly during the past 10,000 years. Much recently the spread of industrial production has profoundly affected human life. Major innovations have spread at the expense of earlier ones. According to Marcus and Fisher ,the cultures of world people need to be constantly rediscovered as these people reinvent them in changing historical circumstances.