Pikas are cute critters, and a specific subset love cold weather. I mean really cold.
Pikas are small non-hibernating lagomorphs living only in cold regions at either high altitudes or high latitudes and have a maximum distribution of species diversification confined to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (average altitude >3000 m), which is called the “roof of the world” and “third polar of the world”.
The above quotation is taken from an article that reports on a new study about the functional evolution of pika leptin. The authors make some rather grandiose claims near the end:
“But the study of adaptively functional evolution of pika leptin from a typical cold-adaptive species may enlighten us to understand and to identify it as one of potential new candidate of therapeutic strategies for human’s diseases associated with metabolic disorders, such as obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc”.
Even if one came to the realization that these Pika evolved and how it happened, it would not be understanding the evolution of the pika that would bring us “therapeutic strategies for human’s [sic] diseases associated with metabolic disorders, such as obesity, diabetes, osteroporosis, etc.” Understanding their cold adaption would not get us there. That’s absurd. Understanding how the genes work (via reverse engineering?) would, however, help shed some light on how our genes work simply because the code that was used is common throughout all life (DNA). This isn’t an exercise in (self-important) evolution so much as an exercise in understanding how the code works. This should be seen as more of an ID type of experiment than evolution.