Research has found a yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse in South America and it is believed to be the highest dwelling mammal on the planet earth. Known with its scientific name, Phyllotis xanthopygus rupestris, the mouse is found 6,739 meters above the sea level. It is located on the summit of Volcan Llullaillaco, a dormant volcano located on the border of Argentina and Chile.
Earlier, the large-eared pika (Ochotona macrotis) was considered the highest dwelling mammal and it was found at an altitude of 6,130 meters during a 1921 Mountain Everest expedition. Many researchers have found the existence of mammals at such a huge height completely shocking. According to them, less than 50% of the oxygen is available at sea level.
But still, such mammals are surviving under such conditions where it is difficult to sustain physically and mentally. Jay Storz, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln has added that the temperature at height is not fit for survival and it can dip to as low as -60° Celsius.
The researchers from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln include Storz and his other members who have captured many yellow-rumped leaf-eared mice. In addition to this, they have also captured three other species from different altitudes.
According to researchers, their bodies might have developed some genetic changes that make them suitable for surviving at such a high elevation. And they are looking to study these genetic changes to carry on their studies on this subject.
Graham Scott, a physiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada was not a part of this research. He has expressed that gaining the right understanding of the survival of these animals can help to find ways for humans to survive under low levels of oxygen.