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Running geese give insight into low oxygen tolerance

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Published on Apr 8, 2014

A new study led by the University of Exeter into how the world's highest flying bird, the bar-headed goose, is able to survive at extreme altitudes may have future implications for low oxygen medical conditions in humans.

Dr Lucy Hawkes and colleagues tested how good the geese were at coping with exercise in reduced oxygen environments by simulating the conditions of Mount Everest in a clear box and then getting the birds to run on a treadmill inside the box. They discovered that the geese had a remarkable tolerance of low oxygen conditions at levels that would render most humans completely immobile.

The wider implications are for low oxygen medical conditions in humans such as heart attack and stroke -- suggesting what adaptations might help prevent problems in the first place and learning how animals have managed to cope with really extreme environments.

For more information visit: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/geese

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