Excessive within the Peruvian Andes, a lizard has claimed the title of world’s highest altitude reptile. The lizard was noticed as excessive as 5,400 meters in elevation, uncovered to frigid temperatures, intense ultraviolet radiation and low oxygen, researchers report February 15 in Herpetozoa.
In October 2020, zoologist José Cerdeña and colleagues ascended Peru’s Chachani volcano, which rises 6,057 meters above sea degree. The crew was on the lookout for Liolaemus lizards, also called tree iguanas, and located them because the researchers climbed above 5,000 meters.
“We noticed one thing transferring between the rocks,” says Cerdeña, of the Nationwide College of Saint Augustine in Arequipa, Peru. “At first we thought they have been mice.” After getting a better look, he and his crew noticed that the darting animals have been truly lizards, tentatively recognized as Liolaemus tacnae. The species is understood to outlive at excessive altitude areas in Peru, and not less than one inhabitants close to Chachani was beforehand noticed some 4,000 meters above sea degree.
Survival in such forbidding circumstances is difficult sufficient for mammals (SN: 7/29/20). However cold-blooded reptiles face further temperature regulation obstacles, so information of reptiles this excessive are uncommon. Till now, the very best residing reptile was a cold-hardy species of toad-headed agama lizard (Phrynocephalus erythrurus) residing on the Tibetan Plateau at 5,300 meters. The Andean lizard breaks the outdated document by 100 meters.
It’s considerably becoming that the document goes to a species of Liolaemus lizard. The genus is exceptionally various, with greater than 270 species tailored to a variety of habitats throughout South America.
Local weather change may have facilitated Liolaemus’ standing as a document holder, Cerdeña notes, as colder circumstances have retreated up mountain peaks within the face of warming. “It’s attainable that this lizard species started to colonize this altitude lately,” he says.
The analysis group’s subsequent steps are to confirm the identification of the lizard with bodily and genetic evaluation, Cerdeña says. He additionally desires to know extra in regards to the reptile’s physiology, which can maintain secrets and techniques to its high-altitude way of life.