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German Super Kid Becomes Super Climber?
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Jun 25, 2004 11: 30 EST
The boy has muscles twice the size of other children his age and half their body fat.

He was born to a muscular mother, a former sprinter. Her brother and three other relatives were also very strong — one a construction worker with a talent for hefting curbstones.

Studies have suggested that a gene called myostatin controls the growth of muscles in humans. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, could one day help people with muscle wasting diseases.

The discovery followed DNA tests on the German boy, born with unusually well developed muscles. The scientists found that the boy had a mutation in the myostatin gene. This mutation meant he was unable to produce myostatin protein. Scientists have no way right now to tell how common the boy's ability is, or if a legion of super-strong tykes will be discovered now that researchers have learned what to look for.

A fluke or the Future?

Genetic mutations have been accredited to a natural process of evolution by some. There are few components of modern evolutionary theory, however, which seem so prone to misinterpretation as the theory of punctuated equilibrium (PE for short).

PE states, essentially, that evolution occurs in jumps as opposed to a gradual change; though this definition is an oversimplification of a very complex idea.

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The discovery of the Myostatin mutation may eventually enable doctors to use myostatin hormone therapy to treat people with muscular dystrophy, a degenerative condition for which there is no cure.

It could also develop into another form of doping (take for example world 100-meter record-holder Tim Montgomery who admitted today to taking human growth hormones). Just remember though, having muscles twice the size of other mountaineers does not necessarily make a person a better climber. Just take a look at some of the climbers out there today; their strength lies in their minds, spirits and endurance.
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