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Rare Cats Discovered On Mount Everest

Rare Cats Discovered On Mount Everest
Rare Cats Discovered On Mount Everest. Credit: Albinfo / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

During an expedition to Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal, a group of dedicated scientists made the astounding discovery of a previously unseen species of cat living on the summit of Mount Everest.

This discovery was made possible by the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition.

New scat sampling report

Pallas’ cats are one of the smallest wild felines in the world, and until 2019, they were unknown to the inhabitants of Mount Everest, where they have been living in complete secrecy.

In a recent article that was published in Cat News, researchers revealed the first report of Pallas’s cat Otocolobus manul in eastern Nepal based on genetic proof from scat samplings. This evidence came from the discovery of the cat’s genetic identity.

According to the findings of the DNA metabarcoding study performed on the samples that were gathered, there are at least two cats residing in the region.

The samples for the study were collected from two places that were located six kilometers apart from one another. The first location was at an elevation of 5,110 meters, while the second location was at an elevation of 5,190 meters.

“Phenomenal” Everest cat discovery

According to the latest findings, researchers have determined that the Pallas’ cat does, in fact, reside in the eastern region of Nepal. As a result of this discovery, we are able to add them to the list of mammal species that have been documented in Sagarmatha National Park.

Dr. Tracie Seimon, who works for the Zoological Health Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, referred to the finding of this unusual species on the mountain that is the highest point above sea level as “phenomenal.”

She went on to say that the “nearly four-week” expedition “was extremely rewarding” for both her group and the scientific community as a whole.

She went on to say that Pallas’ cats being found on Everest “illuminates the rich biodiversity” of the isolated high-alpine habitat.

Dr. Anton Seimon, National Geographic Explorer and co-author of the paper, stated, “This is a unique discovery not only in terms of science but also conservation, as this population of Pallas’s cat is legally protected under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).”

More information about Pallas’ cats

According to a blog, Pallas’s cats live throughout Central Asia’s grasslands and montane steppes, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India.

Pallas’ cats can be found at altitudes as high as 5,600 meters in Mongolia and Russia, where they occupy the majority of their current range.

The same thick fur that covers the animal’s body also protects the species’ characteristically flattened ears from the freezing cold. Yet, its broad paws serve as both a buffer from the snow and functional snowshoes.

The Pallas’s cat has the ability to wrap its tail around its body in order to retain more heat. It features a well-developed nictitating membrane, popularly known as a third eyelid, which may be used to protect the eyes from extreme cold and dust storms. This eye protection mechanism is unique to this species.

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