The Matterhorn is one of the most famous peaks in the Alps.
The alpine zone is the part of a mountain or ridge above the tree line, which can be anywhere between 800 m (2600 ft) above sea level (as in Sweden) to 5200 m (17,000 ft) above sea level. from the sea (as in the Bolivian Andes), but typically between 2,000 m (6,500 ft) and 4,000 m (13,000 ft). Alpine areas are often cold, windy and rocky, requiring animals with special adaptations to cope with the harsh climate. Due to the rarity of large predators high up in the mountains, the climate and the relative lack of available food is the main challenge that alpine animals have to face. Larger alpine animals often have large, strong lungs, which help them breathe in the sparse air near the tops of mountain peaks.
Alpine animals include the cougar.
Some alpine animals include the mountain goat (North America), the llama and alpaca (South America), the chinchilla (South America), the alpine ibex (Alps), the Chinese mountain cat (China), the cougar (North and South America), the Alpine Stream Salamander (China), yak (Tibet), and various rodents and birds, including the Golden Eagle. At higher altitudes (such as those found in parts of the Tibetan Plateau in Asia), the only life forms are birds, rodents, and/or insects. Alpine animals have been found at some of the highest possible altitudes, including a black jumping spider found at 22,000 feet (6,700 m) on Mount Everest.
The chinchilla is a South American alpine rodent.
In America, one of the best-known alpine animals is the mountain goat, famous for its thick coat and steady steps. The mountain goat is not, in fact, a true goat, but a genus of several in the class of animals known as goat antelopes. The mountain goat is the only member of its genus, Oreamnos. Like many other cold-adapted animals, the mountain goat has a double coat of fur, including an undercoat of protective hairs and a longer outer coat. These alpine animals are so well insulated that they can withstand temperatures down to -50 degrees F (-46 degrees C) and wind speeds of up to 160 km/h. They could probably live in parts of Antarctica if there was enough to eat.
There are several peoples who depend on alpine animals for their survival. Two are the Andean people and the Tibetan people. These cultures rely on llamas/alpacas and yaks respectively. These animals take the place of cattle, pigs or other more typical barnyard animals that would never survive at such high altitudes. The thick coats of these animals are ideal for making jackets, their meat is highly edible, and they all produce milk to drink. If it weren’t for these high-altitude domesticated animals, the Andes and the Tibetan Plateau might be uninhabitable.