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Human ‘Sea Nomads’ Can Dive Up To 13 Minutes

Posted by Kevin Krueger on April 25, 2018

Southeast Asian Bajau ‘sea nomads’ have evolved larger spleens to allow them to dive longer, according to a study published in Cell by Cambridge, Berkeley and Copenhagen researchers

  • The DNA mutation was uncovered in the Bajau people of southeast Asia, according to researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen.
  • Scientists suspect the mutation alters the spleen, a part of the body that’s instrumental in maintaining body functions with limited oxygen.
  • The spleen is important when diving because the organ is full of red blood cells that carry oxygen, according to researchers — so the Bajau’s huge spleens, which are 50% larger than average, can presumably pump more blood cells into the body as they dive. That in turn prevents the human body from becoming oxygen-starved after minutes below water, researchers said.
  • Researchers said the mutation the Bajau have developed is a prime example of how extensively humans can adapt to unusual environments.

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