An Unlikely Traveler In The ‘Death Zone’…

It’s called the ‘death zone’. The area above 8,000 meters where humans can no longer acclimatise to the effects of altitude; the oxygen is too low, the air too thin. We can only venture there briefly if we want to survive*. Yet despite the thin air and low oxygen there are reports of an unlikely visitor: geese. The geese in question are bar-headed geese. Normally residents of areas in China and Mongolia that migrate to over-winter in India. Unfortunately, slap-bang in the middle of their migration route lies the home of Everest, the highest mountain range in the world: the Himalaya. How bar-headed geese travel at such altitudes is something of a puzzle for physiologists. Flying for any distance in the death zone is remarkable; it takes 50% more power to fly and with only 40% of the oxygen available (60% reduction in the partial pressure) than at sea level the metabolic costs ...(Read More)