A mountain lizard in Peru broke the reptilian altitude record

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High in 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 workforce was in search of Liolaemus lizards, often known as tree iguanas, and located them as the researchers climbed above 5,000 meters. 

“We observed something moving between the rocks,” says Cerdeña, of the National University of Saint Augustine in Arequipa, Peru. “At first we thought they were mice.” After getting a more in-depth look, he and his workforce noticed that the darting animals have been really lizards, tentatively recognized as Liolaemus tacnae. The species is understood to outlive at excessive altitude areas in Peru, and at the very least one inhabitants close to Chachani was beforehand noticed some 4,000 meters above sea degree.

Survival in such forbidding situations is tough sufficient for mammals (SN: 7/29/20). But cold-blooded reptiles face further temperature regulation obstacles, so data of reptiles this excessive are uncommon. Until now, the highest dwelling reptile was a cold-hardy species of toad-headed agama lizard (Phrynocephalus erythrurus) dwelling on the Tibetan Plateau at 5,300 meters. The Andean lizard breaks the outdated record by 100 meters. 

It’s considerably becoming that the record 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. 

Climate change may have facilitated Liolaemus’ standing as a record holder, Cerdeña notes, as colder situations have retreated up mountain peaks in the face of warming. “It is possible that this lizard species began to colonize this altitude recently,” 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 needs to know extra about the reptile’s physiology, which can maintain secrets and techniques to its high-altitude way of life.

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