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Yaghan Natives of South America

Discussion in 'Cold Thermogenesis' started by TheKid, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. TheKid

    TheKid Gold

    We typically tend to look north when we want to examine traditional cultures living cold climates; but the south gets pretty cold too. I don't know how I found this today. I surely wasn't looking for it.

    Anyway, before the Europeans wiped them out (there literally was a genocidal campaign), the Yaghan people lived a very interesting life. This from Wikipedia:


    Despite the extreme cold climate in which they lived, early Yahgan wore little to no clothing until their contact with Europeans.[5] They were able to survive the harsh climate because:

    1) They kept warm by huddling around small fires when they could, including in their boats to stay warm. In fact, the name of "Tierra del Fuego" (land of fire) is a name given to the island cluster by passing European explorers who witnessed these fires burning.

    2) They made use of rock formations to shelter themselves from the elements.

    3) They covered themselves in animal grease.[citation needed]

    4) Over time they had evolved significantly higher metabolisms than average humans, allowing them to generate more internal body heat.[6]

    5) Their natural resting position was a deep squatting position, which reduced their surface area and so helped to conserve heat.
  2. Michael

    Michael Super Moderator

    Yes, certainly cold in Tierra del Fuego! It has been suggested that some of the people on the southern tip of South America may not have come via the Bering Strait and may have been related to Australian Aborigines - mainly on the grounds that old photos show people who look a little like that and that there's a rock painting that shows darker and lighter skinned figues at war. Whether DNA testing could sustain that ... If there are many people left known to be descended from them.

    Charles Darwin wrote a little about Fuegians he met in The Voyage of the Beagle.
  3. Jack Kruse

    Jack Kruse Administrator

    notice how polar people are darker than most expect.........CT6 and the alpha MSH link again. Inuits, the Outback natives in aus are Antartica natives and these people.........all have a tie if you look for it.
  4. Michael

    Michael Super Moderator

    Tried a google image search and interestingly the first one that came up was on a page that has an extract from Darwin's diary.

    Not much in the way of clothing despite the cold:


    He says they eat shellfish, fish, and "sea eggs" (?)

  5. Jack Kruse

    Jack Kruse Administrator

    People are afraid of going outside their comfort zone in so many ways.........

    Every time I have stepped outside my comfort zone in my life and into vulnerability it is clear that there is a risk in my current world falling apart. The interesting part is that it never seems to occur in the way that you originally feared it might. And sometimes, it reveals your own opportunity costs of your current reality that you were blind too for decades. Change is often better than good.
  6. Michael

    Michael Super Moderator

    Can you say more, please?

    I think that "afraid of going outside their comfort zone" applies to everyone, but were you suggesting specifically that it applied to Darwin here? He saw them, their lack of clothing, the possible insecurity of their food supply, and experienced fear perhaps? And that would colour his view of them? The truth is they probably just don't need many of things he thinks of as absent.
  7. villjamur_stevenson

    villjamur_stevenson New Member

    The father in that picture of Darwin's does not look happy.
  8. janagram

    janagram New Member

    yes but remember the early photos of our forefathers and mothers? They look so stern....because they were unused to the concept of photography and we had to learn to open up to the camera....(I still don't like it)
  9. ealachan

    ealachan New Member

    None of them really look particularly stoked to be there, honestly...but then again, when a strange white man is rounding you and your family up and posing you, then telling you to hold still while he points a big box at you in order to capture your image, it's probably not exactly a cause for celebration and mirth.
  10. Michael

    Michael Super Moderator

  11. Entelechy

    Entelechy New Member

    there was some discussion of the indigenous peoples of Tierra Del Fuego back in April in the What the H-- thread.

    Jack has said they would be part of a future blog.


    they are fascinating, as their metabolic processes respond differently than the Inuit, the Kalahari bushmen, and Korean Ama.

    their metabolic rate actually falls as the temperature decreases.

    Favorite quote from Darwins notes..

    “It was marvelous the way they could stand the cold. One woman who was suckling a baby came out to the Beagle in a canoe, and she sat there calmly in the tossing waves while the sleet fell and thawed on her naked breast. On shore these people slept on the wet ground while the rain poured through the roofs of their crude skin huts”. It was obvious that this tribe had adapted physiologically in some manner to the extreme climate with very little in the way of protective garments."

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