General, Research, Technology

Who lives on top of the highest active volcano in the world?

Ljulyayljako - the highest acting volcano on our planet. It is located on the border of Chile and Argentina and rises as much as 6739 meters above sea level. Its peak covered with snow is at an extreme height, where the oxygen concentration is below the norm by as much as 45%, and the temperature sometimes drops to -60 degrees Celsius. It would be logical to assume that these places are uninhabited, but not - in 2013, climber Matt Farson noticed a small rodent there. Having learned about this, scientists became interested in what other animals can live in such harsh conditions and what they eat there, because there is no vegetation on the top of the volcano. A few years later, the answers to some of the questions of interest to scientists were finally found.

Lulhaillaco Volcano is located on the border of Chile and Argentina, in the driest desert in the world - Atacama

What climber Matt Farson spotted on tophuge rodent active volcano, biologist Jay Storz became interested. According to Nebraska Today, mammals cannot theoretically live at altitudes above 5 kilometers. And the rodent seen by the climber walked at an altitude of about 6.7 kilometers. To find out if rodents really can survive at extreme heights, the biologist climbed the Ljulyayljako volcano with mountaineer Mario Prez Mamani.

Biologist Jay Storz (left) and climber Mario Perez Mamani (right)

The most hardy animals

To everyone's surprise, on the way to the topa huge volcano, the researchers really met several species of rodents. For example, they met individuals of the so-called Andean gerbil (Eligmodontia puerulus), which usually live in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. Also, the biologist and climber were lucky to see the eared lima (Phyllotis limatus), which belongs to the genus of leaf-eared hamsters and is usually inhabited by savannas, shrubberies and deserts.

The body length of leaf-eared hamsters (Phyllotis) is from 7 to 15 centimeters, and the tail length reaches 17 centimeters

But the most interesting rodent for researchersbecame a leafy hamster of the species Phyllotis xanthopygus rupestris. He was seen at an altitude of 6700 meters, that is, almost at the very top of the Ljulyayljako volcano. From now on, it is believed that this tiny rodent is a champion in terms of habitat. Indeed, not every living creature will be able to live in conditions where there is little oxygen and almost no food. What can I say, at such a height, even well-trained people feel bad.

Leaf-eared hamsters of the species Phyllotis xanthopygus rupestris are able to survive in cold conditions with a minimum of oxygen, but scientists still do not know how they succeed

But how the tiny hamster manages to survive inso extreme conditions, scientists are still not clear. It is also surprising that rodents of the same species feel great in the lowlands, so researchers are still surprised at the fitness of hamsters to such different environmental conditions.

Beautiful view of the Ljulyayljako volcano

How to live without food and oxygen?

To find out what animals eat on largeheight, scientists want to study the contents of their digestive system. At the moment, there is speculation that they feed on lichens and insects, which are rare, but still found on the tops of giant volcanoes. Researchers also want to take blood tests from rodents and study red blood cellsthat are saturated with oxygen in the lungs and distribute it through the body of living things. Perhaps this study will reveal the secret of how rodents survive in conditions lacking oxygen.

Red blood cells - blood cells that are involved in the saturation of the human body and animals with oxygen. Also known as red blood cells. Read more about why a person needs air and how lungs work, read in our special material.

According to the biologist Jay Storz, other animals can live at high altitudes. Perhaps scientists have so far just poorly studied the highest peaks in the world and in the future we will have even more discoveries.

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The highest volcano in the world

Volcano Ojos del Salado

It’s important to understand that Ljulyayljako is the highest current the volcano. In general, the highest volcano is Ojos del Salado, whose height is 6891 meters. While Ljulyayljako is considered active and its last eruption occurred in 1877, the volcano Ojos del Salado is considered completely extinct, because in the entire history of observing it, no activity was noticed. In general, there are a huge number of volcanoes in the world and lately there have been a lot of strange things with them. We recommend reading about them right now, in our special material.