Guanacos grazing on high pastures in the Andes The highest mountaintops are covered with snow all year round. Those that lie in tropical regions, such as Kilimanjaro in Africa, can have hot, steamy rainforest at their foothills and freezing night-time temperatures at their summits. At high altitudes the sunlight is intense. There are strong, cold winds and a lack of oxygen in the air. Despite these dangers, mountains can host a wide variety of living things that have adapted to such harsh conditions.
A pictorial diagram of mountain zonesOn their lower slopes, mountains are often forested, but higher up the trees give way to dry scrubland and rocky, windswept terrain. The flowering plants that grow here are short and strong, and are able to conserve water as much as possible in the drying winds. Close to the summit, only the most hardy kinds of plants, such as lichens and mosses, can grow. With the coming of spring, snow covering much of the mountain may melt and new plants emerge.
The Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, is said to be an ape-like creature that inhabits the Himalayas. Its most likely true identity is a Himalayan brown bear or Asiatic black bear.
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