Environmental Adaptations

Environmental Adaptations of the Human Body

Introduction

Anatomically, the human body is an advanced, biological machine engineered by nature. What separates us humans from most other organisms is that we are endothermic or warm-blooded. And just like most other living organisms, we strive for homeostasis, where our body temperature, fluid levels and other bodily functions are at equilibrium. This is possible due to our internal mechanisms that regulate our functions and processes irrespective of the external environment. In other words, it means that we can adapt to extreme temperatures.

Adaptations

Moreover, humans are quite quick to adapt to the vast and diverse environments the earth has to offer. From the bitterly cold Arctic to the sweltering heat of the Saharan desert, physiological and cultural adaptations have helped humans to thrive between these extremes. However, research has shown that genetic change is not the only influential factor. Cultural and technological advancements along with biological responses such as acclimatization and developmental adjustment play key roles in adapting to the environments

Heat

For instance, the human body acclimatizes itself in summer by changing the colour of the skin (tanning). This is in response to the UV radiation emitted by the sun, which can cause damage to the skin cells. Furthermore, this is a seasonal acclimatization response and is mostly observed during the summer months.

High-Altitude

People living in high-altitude areas, such as Tibet and the Andes, have adapted well to the mountainous environment. This is evident from the evolutionary modifications that have enabled them to produce more red blood cells, which are quite necessary for the low-oxygen environment.  The rest of the human population would have serious health issues in the same environment if these adaptations are absent.

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