A genetic modification that changes body temperature has helped Aboriginal people survive the tough climate of Central Australia, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.
Craig Quartermaine

31 Jan 2014 - 8:18 PM  UPDATED 27 Jun 2015 - 4:41 PM

Researchers say their data from the 1980s shows half of the Indigenous population in Western Australia had a genetic modification that helped them to adapt to the hotter temperatures.

The human body is capable of adapting and modifying itself to survive from trauma and sickness.

"When the body temperature rises the release of this hormone this accelerator of our internal activity suddenly undergoes a surge so that as the temperature moves above 37 degrees for instance in infections and fevers the the body goes into overdrive," said Professor Robin Carrell.

The Cambridge study found that when most Indigenous Australians in Western Australia get a fever where the temperature spikes to over 37 degrees, their metabolism speeds up to counter infection and inflammation.

Professor Carrell says the genetic mutation is likely to have developed over tens of thousands of years.

"What has happened is that the Indigenous Australian has had to live in the desert in heat and drought has altered the delivery of this activating hormone," Professor Carrell said.