14. A genetic mutation that changed the course of history.

“Human beings are ultimately nothing but carriers—passageways—for genes. They ride us into the ground like racehorses from generation to generation. Genes don’t think about what constitutes good or evil. They don’t care whether we are happy or unhappy. We’re just means to an end for them. The only thing they think about is what is most efficient for them.”

– Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

In the early 13th century, the Jin dynasty of China had the strongest army in the world. In neighbouring  Mongolia, the forces of Genghis Khan were puny in comparison.

       A colossal statue of Genghis Khan, outside Ulan Bator. (Michael Kohn/EPA/Corbis)

Genghis Khan and his whole country probably had no more than one million people and about 100,000 soldiers. On contrary, if u looked at China at that time, there were at least one million soldiers alone.

With an army ranking ten times the size, the Chinese jin should have easily annihilated an invading Mongolian force but they couldn’t.

jin vs mongols
An illustration of the Battle of Yehuling during the Mongol–Jin War ( Battle between Mongols & Chinese (1211). Jami’ al-tawarikhRashid al-Din.)

What could possibly be the reason? 

Despite their less strength, the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan had something hidden in their DNA. Many people In Mongolia were lactase persistent, so they are able to drink lots of milk, which is incredibly densified with nutrients. Not all adult humans are able to digest milk.

Many Mongolians had a genetic mutation which meant they were able to digest sugar from milk into adulthood. It’s one of the strongest signatures of natural selection of any single gene trait in our genomes.

The milk-drinking mutation was common amongst Mongolians, but not amongst Chinese Jin.

What the jin people were all using carbohydrates. The problem with carbohydrates in the short term is that the energy is depleted very quickly. They give u a lot of energy and then it’s gone.

But Gengis Kahn’s warriors revived themselves with horses’ milk and cheese. This made them leaner, fitter fighters with a physique built on strong calcium-rich bones. And Mongol soldiers didn’t just benefit individually. The ability to digest milk affected their whole military strategy.

horse cheese
Source: https://www.quora.com/What-does-milk-from-other-species-taste-like

The Chinese armies, they often had to have as many animals pulling food as carrying people so the soldiers often had to walk into battle because the animals were being used to pull carts and to transport food in very large amounts. With the Mongols, there was none of that. Every soldier was riding his horse and he had several other horses with him. And these horses served not only as a mode of transportation but also the food. The Mongolians milked the mares they rode and drank frequently. This gave the Mongols a great advantage. They may have only had 100,000 soldiers, but every soldier was a warrior.

Source: Battle between Mongols & Chinese (1211). Jami’ al-tawarikhRashid al-Din.

Not only did the Mongol army make use of every soldier to the fullest, but It could also travel fast. So this was very important strategically in the movement of the Mongols. It gave them the ability to strike anywhere in the Chinese empire.

The Jin dynasty officials never knew which city would the Mongols hit next. Because the Mongols could travel just as fast as the news could travel. The Mongol diet proved very advantageous for them in their battle against Jin.

So the Mongols had a great advantage and they were able to use this in a strategic way in their fight against the sedentary people who depended on agricultural products.

Milk became the food of conquerors. The Milk – digesting mutation thus spread fast

Source: Leonardi, M.Gerbault, P.Thomas, M. G. & Burger, J. Int. Dairy J. 228897 (2012).

……………Information bits garnered from the Works of Jaheyuk Lee & Jiyun Lee (‘ The Evolution of Us’)………………….

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