Timeout

Mice break record for highest-dwelling mammals


The yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse has done it again.

Just one year after setting the record for world's highest-dwelling mammal, the mouse shattered it by nearly 2,000 feet, reports National Geographic.

In a February expedition organized by organized by Jay Storz, a biologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, the mouse was discovered in Chile atop the summit of Llullaillaco — a dormant volcano — at 22,110 feet.

It's a marvel the mice can thrive at such elevations, as there is no vegetation, little rain, and extreme temperatures, per National Geographic. The species has also been found at sea level, meaning they have an "unprecedented elevation range of more than 22,000 feet."

"We may have generally underestimated the altitudinal range limits and physiological tolerances of small mammals simply because the world's highest summits remain relatively unexplored by biologists," the research, published in bioRxiv, states.

Now, scientists are eager to study how the creatures can survive in such extreme conditions, with the hopes of using that research to advance treatment of human conditions relating to oxygen delivery and utilisation, whether it's due to disease, exertion, or altitude, Storz says.

The work is funded by the National Geographic Society and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Read more at National Geographic.