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Mountains and Mountain Animals
Mountains can be defined as large landforms that are formed by tectonic activity. Around 25% of the land on Earth is covered by mountains, which are also the habitat for more than 85% of the world's bird, reptile, mammal, and some amphibian species. Most of the diversity that is found in the mountains cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Apart from providing shelter to a large group of biodiversity, mountains are also considered the world’s largest water towers as they contribute to 60-80% of all the freshwater resources on our planet. According to studies, at least half of the population depends on the mountains for shelter, food, and water.
Earth's landscapes are dominated by mountains, which are enormous rocky formations. Tectonic plates move together and push against each other resulting tall structures. The force behind the mountain formation is the same which causes earthquakes and volcanoes to erupt. Mountains typically have steep, sloping sides with ridges that are either sharp or rounded and a high point known as a peak or summit. Very rarely, mountains are seen as individuals; they are generally present in a series or chain of many mountains together and are called a mountain range. The height of mountains is generally measured with respect to sea level, and the world’s highest peak on land is Mount Everest in the Himalayas. It is 29,036 feet tall. There are typically three types of mountains that are seen-
Volcanic mountains - These are formed when molten rock erupts from the depths of the earth and piles up on itself. The most famous volcano on land is Mount Fuji in Japan.
Dome Mountains - When magma pushes up the crust and hardens before erupting onto the surface, dome mountains are created. Rain and winds strike the dome, sculpting peaks and valleys.
Fault-Block Mountains - When tectonic plates collide or are under stress, the earth's surface cracks and faults, pushing blocks of rock up and down. This is how fault-block mountains are created.
Animals that live on mountains have special adaptations that help them to survive in those environmental conditions, such as thick, multilayered coats, modified feet for climbing and walking in snow, etc. Some animals that are found in the mountain region are −
They generally come at the top of the food chain, and they can feed on both plants and animals.
They have a thick layer of fat that keeps them warm and long claws that help them dig up the food that is buried deep in snow or ice.
They have thick coats that grow in winter and help them insulate their bodies in cold conditions. They have uniquely designed hooves that help them in walking on even and uneven ground.
This bird is also called the bone-eating vulture. Their diet includes almost 80% of the bones as the pH of their stomach is 1. So they can easily digest the bones. They can easily find food that has been left by other animals
They have a dense, water resistant coat that keeps them warm in cold environment. They have adapted to larger hearts and lungs and more blood cells that keep their blood flowing in lower temperatures too.
Tibetan Sand Fox
These animals have a thick fur coat that can easily handle the cold and a powerful jaw that allows them to eat a wide variety of meat.
Habitat of Mountain Animals
|Brown Bear||North America, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.|
|Himalayan Tahr||India, China, and Nepal.|
|Lammergeier||Southern Europe, Middle-East, Northeastern China.|
|Yak||India and China.|
|Tibetan sand fox||India, China, and Nepal.|
|Himalayan Marmot||India, China, Pakistan, and Nepal.|
|Dall Sheep||Mountains of Alaska.|
|Alpine Cough||Europe, Asia, and North Africa.|
People take great risks to climb mountains in order to see their landscapes, climate, and ecosystems up close. Mountains are the home for around one quarter of all the terrestrial biodiversity and account for 20% of the global tourism. The mountains have their own ecosystem and biodiversity. The flora and fauna that are found there are generally not seen in any other areas. The plants and animals have adapted themselves to get food and nutrition from that cold climate and to survive.
Q1. What are tectonic plates?
Ans. The massive, amorphous rock slabs known as tectonic plates are made up of both oceanic and continental lithosphere. The plates can be hundreds of kilometres or thousands of kilometres in size. The oceanic crusts are made of basaltic rocks, which are dense and heavy, whereas the continental crusts are composed of granitic rocks, which are lighter.
Q2. Name some animals that can be found on the mountains.
Ans. The animals that can live easily in the cold and windy climate of the mountains are- Mountain goats, snow leopards, golden eagles, Kiang, Chiru, Tibetan Gazelle, chinchilla, bighorn sheep, baw baw frogs, mountain hare, wolf, wolverine, guanaco, etc.
Q3. What is a natural hazard? Name some natural hazards that are common in mountain ranges.
Ans. A natural hazard is a natural process or phenomenon that occurs in the biosphere and constitutes a damaging event. Natural disasters that are common in mountain regions are -
Glacial lake outburst floods
Q4. Mention some adaptations used by mountain animals.
Ans. The animals that are found on mountains have to survive in extremely cold and windy climates where there is a scarcity of vegetation. These animals have to adapt to some special features, such as the presence of thick fur, which keeps their bodies warm.
They have excess body fat beneath the skin that keeps their bodies insulated. Some animals have strong claws or hooves which they use to dig up the food that is stuck in the dense ice and help them walk.
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