Record-Breaking Mouse, Higher Than Any Mammal | The Institute for Creation Research

Record-Breaking Mouse, Higher Than Any Mammal
Recently, researchers have reported on the world’s “highest-dwelling mammal,” the yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse, observed upon a dormant volcano 6,739 meters (22,110 feet) above sea level.1 While the discovery of birds at greater altitudes is not surprising, “that mammals can live at these heights is astonishing, considering there’s only about 44 percent of the oxygen available at sea level. . . . The temperature is also rarely above freezing and can drop as low as –60° Celsius.”1

In their study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of wildlife biologists admitted that this likely indicates that endothermic (warm-blooded) mammals are more resilient than they have been given credit for—perhaps because the less-resilient scientists have not been routinely exploring extreme habitats where these hardy mammals habituate.2

At a record-breaking altitude for any wild mammal, the mouse was seen “scurrying across a snowfield at 6,205 m above sea level” in one video-recorded observation.2,3 Yet, this high-elevation rodent is flexible enough to also live at sea level; that’s adaptability in the extreme— fitted to “fill” many habitats! Moving forward, “the team plans to look for genetic changes that might have equipped these animals to survive at high elevations.”1

Once again, scientists are surprised at how well animals—even humble, little mice—are fitted to fill this present world. And it is incredible that some animals, both birds and mammals, can live at dizzying heights without passing out from the thin air. Yet Bible-believing Christians should not be surprised when God enables creatures to do amazing things.

One mammal mentioned in Scripture and known for habituating high elevations is the mountain goat, one variety of which is the Nubian ibex. Another high-altitude creature is the marmot-like “rock badger” (a rock hyrax, also referred to as the “coney”) mentioned in Psalm 104:18, which says, “The high hills are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.”4 Since the renewed Genesis Mandate (Genesis 9:1-7) applies to all animals “filling the earth,” which includes great variety in geography and biome habitats, we can find some creatures that He fitted to live at high elevations.

Even though this world is fallen, it is nonetheless “filled” with God’s creatures, from sea level to some of the globe’s highest elevations. This is no accident. The phrase “natural selection” explains neither the biodiversity nor the biome ecology involved because “nature” didn’t “select” anything. Luck (i.e., random natural processes) did not equip yellow-rumped leaf-eared mice to live at such extreme habitats; this is God’s providence on display—for those who have the eyes to see it.

Stage image: Mouse found over 6,000 meters above sea level on a dormant volcano.
Stage image credit: Marcial Quiroga-Carmona. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.


References
1. Lee, J. J. A South American Mouse is the World’s Highest-Dwelling Mammal. Science News. Posted on Sciencenews.com, July 29, 2020. “The mouse (Phyllotis xanthopygus rupestris) was found . . . on the summit of Volcán Llullaillaco, a dormant volcano on the border of Chile and Argentina.” 
2. Jay F. Storz et al., “Discovery of the world’s highest-dwelling mammal,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117, no. 31 (July 16, 2020): 18169-18171, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2005265117. “M.F. [Matthew Farson] and T.B. [Thomas Bowen] filmed a mouse (identified as Phyllotis spp.) scurrying across a snowfield at 6,205 m above sea level (24°43.052′S, 68°33.323′W), an altitude that exceeds existing records for wild mammals. This sighting motivated a subsequent high-altitude trapping expedition in February 2020, led by J.F.S. [Jay F. Storz], M.Q.-C. [Marcial Quiroga-Carmona], and G.D. [Guillermo D’Elia].”
3. Mammals have also been taken into extreme altitudes by aircraft and spacecraft. For one amazing example involving a German Shepherd dog who repeatedly flew on World War II bombing runs over Germany, see Johnson, J. J. S. 2016. High-Altitude Flying Is for the Birds. Acts & Facts. 45 (3): 20-21.
4. Psalm 104:18. Regarding how God has providentially fitted mountain goats for high-elevation living, see Johnson, J. J. S. Balancing High Risks: Learning from Mountain Goats. Creation Science Update. Posted on icr.org April 23, 2020. Regarding rodents, such as alpine-elevation marmots, see Johnson, J. J. S. 2016. Woodchucks, Rockchucks, and a Shadowy Holiday. Nordic Legacy Series. (Norwegian Society of Texas, February 28, 2016): 1-11.

*Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.
The Latest
CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
From Ruins to Revelation: Truths Revealed Through Biblical Archaeology...
The Bible is full of people and places that are seemingly lost to time, but through the field of archaeology, new finds are shedding light on the incredible...

NEWS
Bergmann’s Rule Falsely Refuted
A recent study of dinosaur sizes claims to break Bergmann’s rule.1 Bergmann’s rule was named after biologist Carl Bergmann, who...

NEWS
New Shark Fossil from Arkansas
The fossil record contains a plethora of shark teeth, but fossilized shark skeletons are exceptionally rare. When they are found, though, they are always...

NEWS
Photosynthetic Proteins Power Plants
Some scientists think the photosynthetic process is all but figured out since the discovery of more details regarding the place, assembly, and function...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Summer 2024
...

CREATION PODCAST
Uncovering the Secrets of Earth's Oceans | The Creation Podcast:...
The oceans cover most of our planet's surface. Uniformitarians claim the oceans are nearly 4 billion years old, but the evidence says otherwise.   Host...

NEWS
A Giant Ichthyosaur: Largest Ever Marine Reptile?
Paleontologists have discovered portions of a giant ichthyosaur’s lower jawbone on Blue Anchor Beach at the southern entrance to the United Kingdom’s...

NEWS
New Titanosaur Species Discovered in Uruguay and Argentina
The pre-Flood world had some truly massive dinosaurs, and the largest of them were in the group Sauropodomorpha.1 Within this group were...

NEWS
May 2024 ICR Wallpaper
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you...

NEWS
Was a Key to Photosynthesis Evolution Discovered?
Northern Canadian lakes were the source of recently discovered unique photosynthetic bacteria of the phylum Chloroflexota. After years of culturing,...