posted at 19:50
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First humans settled on Tibetan Plateau 3,600 years ago
Humans were able to permanently settle as high as 3,400 meters on the plateau - which is known as "The roof of the world" - by growing altitude-resistant crops and raising livestock, according to a study published in the US journal Science. The scientists analyzed animal teeth, bones and plant deposits for the study. "Year-round survival at these altitudes must have led to some very challenging conditions indeed," said lead researcher Martin Jones from Cambridge's Department of Archaeology. "This poses further, interesting questions for researchers about the adaptation of humans, livestock and crops to life at such dizzying heights." Sporadic human presence was detected on the plateau as early as 20,000 years ago, while semi-permanent settlers arrived 5,200 years ago. Researchers said early humans likely first traveled to the plateau to hunt animals, but the discovery of altitude-resistant crops allowed them to plant their roots there. The researchers examined the remains of pigs, sheep and cattle as well as plants at 53 sites across the northern Tibetan plateau. "The more we learn about the rich ecology of past and present societies, and the wider range of crops they raised in the world's more challenging environments, the more options we will have for thinking through food security issues in the future," he said.

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