High point

Human visitors to Lake Titicaca are encouraged to gulp down coca tea in an effort to overcome the effects of hypoxia, or low oxygen levels. A short flight of stairs leaves you breathless, and your body compensates by increasing heart rate and breathing faster and deeper. But these changes are energetically costly to maintain. To thrive at altitude, populations adapt and evolve. And that takes time—tens of thousands to millions of years to acquire increasingly efficient adaptations.

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