How much do you know about Amazon Rainforest? The truth is that, even though it's very important for the whole of humanity, few people know much about this ancient place which was formed 55 million years ago.
Let me start with revealing the origins of the forest's name. It was given by Francisco Orellana, a Spanish explorer who was attacked by female warriors 'Tapuyas' in the forest. He clearly saw reminiscence between this tribe and female warriors Amazons of Greek mythology and named this place the Amazon Rainforest.
And now some facts to let you understand the role of the Amazon Rainforest both in Earth's and humanity's life:
- 20% of oxygen in the world is produced by the Amazon Rainforest
- The Amazon spans across 9 South American countries: Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Suriname, Peru, Guyana, Ecuador, Venezuela, and French Guiana.
- About 80% of the developed world's organic food originate from Rainforests including Amazonia
- At 6,992 km, the Amazon is the longest river in the world
And this list can go on and on. As you see, the significance of Amazon Rainforest is hard to overestimate. But, have you ever wondered what surprises this majestic place holds? We offer you a safe journey to one of the most ancient places on Earth, to explore its most interesting, strange, dangerous and mysterious places and objects.
25 81 Ancient Settlements
According to The Washington Post, on March 2018, archaeologists discovered 81 ancient settlements in the Amazon.
Archaeologist Jonas Gregorio de Souza together with colleagues have identified that the discovered settlements were built from 1250 to 1500 and that there may be hundreds of other settlements like this in the forest. They suggest that as many as 1,000,000 people may have managed the forest before the arrival of Europeans. But other researchers disagree with this suggestion. Clearly, more research needs to be done to know for sure.
24 The Boiling River with 93 Degrees Celsius Water
I have already mentioned that Amazon has the longest river in the world, but few people know that there's another river in the Amazon Rainforest. One of them is called 'The Boiling River' and it has earned its name, not by a coincidence. It's literally boiling and at times its temperature can be as high as 93 degrees Celsius.
The steam is rising from its surface giving all living beings a warning that they shouldn't even think about taking a dip there. Interestingly, scientists haven't found out the reason of such extreme temperature, but there's a theory that it happened because of a drilling company, which accidentally released gasses from inside the Earth into the river. Locals disagree, believing that its a place of power. Whatever the reason, don't swim there.
23 Goliath Birdeater, the Biggest Spider in the World
Amazon is also home to a number of strange creatures. As we're looking at the Amazon Rainforest from different angles, we will be able to get acquainted with some of the most incredible creatures from this area.
And the first one will be Goliath birdeater. As you may have guessed from its name, it's a spider so huge that it can eat birds. In fact, it's the heaviest tarantula in the world. With a body length of 13 centimeters, it makes almost every other spider look tiny.
Luckily for us, it's not dangerous to humans. However, if you touch its prickly hair which it can shed when approached, it can cause irritation that can last for days.
22 Victoria Amazonica, Water Lilly that Can Hold An Average Person's Weight
One thing you should know about the Amazon Rainforest is that you can find a lot of big things there. First the goliath birdeater and now Victoria Amazonia. These water lilies are so big and robust that they can hold the weight of not just a child you see in the photo, but agrown-up human being!
This plant named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom can reach 3 meters in diameter and looks astonishingly beautiful. But be careful if you decide to step on it. Its leaves have thorns which protect this unique flower from predators.
21 Potoo, Crazy Bird with Extraordinary Camouflage Skills
What's your impression about this bird when you look at it? I don't know about you, but it reminds me of that one crazy friend with unpredictable behavior each of us has.
Although these birds have silly faces, they are masters of disguise and can spend days without motion. Their eyes are usually half closed and they perch upon the stumps of broken branches during the day. You will be lucky to see one of these birds because first of all they are nocturnal creatures, and secondly, they camouflage themselves so well that it makes it almost impossible to spot them.
20 Walking Palm, a Tree That Can Literally Walk
If you watched Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy then you surely remember huge tree-like creatures called Ents. Guess what, they're more real than Gandalf. While they don't look and act exactly like it was shown in the movie, they can walk. The speed of their movement is tremendously slow because these trees move due to new roots growing toward sunlight and replacing the old roots. Imagine how much time it takes them to walk one meter.
These trees are known as walking palms or Cashapona. If you spot them in the forest, please don't wait until you see them move.
19 Jesus Lizard, Which Can Walk on Water
These creatures are more often called basilisks than Jesus Lizards, but the latter suits them greatly due to their incredible ability to run on water. They use this ability when hunting to catch a meal or in case of danger when they need to run from predators. In such situations, they open their toes revealing a special webbing which they use to run on water.
Basilisks live near lakes, ponds are rivers and in general, they're very interesting creatures to observe. In case you haven't seen them running on water do so right now. This may be the funniest thing you see today.
18 Macaw Claylick, Delicacy for the Macaws
If you like me, love everything about parrots then you will find this piece of information adorable. There's a spot in the Amazon Rainforest with the sodium-rich clay which turned to be a real delicacy for macaws. This spot is located in the middle of the forest and all birds who know about it haste to have their share of yummy minerals. Remarkably, there's only one place like this in the jungle, so it attracts a lot of these colorful birds.
The color of their feathers makes the look of this morning episode in the forest especially colorful and rad.
17 Glass Frog, That You Can See Through
You've probably seen this unique frog before on Discovery Channel or National Geographic. Now let me tell you some more information about it so that you look like a really smart guy or gal next time you attend a party.
Glass frogs live in Amazon Rainforest, they usually have a green color and they are famous for the transparency of their skin which makes their inner organs visible. Because of that, frog's body takes the color of the surroundings and makes it difficult for predators to see it. So it wasn't made like this for our entertainment. Evolution doesn't joke around.
16 Rafflesia Flower, That Looks Like it Can Eat You
I swear to you it's not photoshopped! It's just Rafflesia, world's biggest flower and third huge thing on our list, after giant birdeater spider and huge water lilies.
According to Rafflesia Flower website, this plant has no roots, stems, or leaves. Its size is not the only remarkable thing, because it's also famous for its smell which reminds the smell of rotting meat. Unfortunately, in addition to being one of the rarest plants in the world, rafflesia is also on the verge of extinction.
15 Decoy Building Spider, Which Builds Spiders Himself
You won't get a break from weird Amazonian creatures and places, because now we're going to take a closer look at a tiny spider who is able to create a huge spider in order to scare dangerous predators. Although that big spider on the picture doesn't look like the best piece of art, if we consider the size of the decoy-building spider (only 5 millimeters in length) which built it, we should give the creature some kudos.
This intelligent spider was discovered only recently at Tambopata Research Center and further investigation is necessary. Maybe we will find out some more incredible skills of this little sculptor?
14 The darkness of the Forest Floor
You probably haven't expected to see darkness on the list, but it's worth mentioning, because due to the thickness of the top branches of trees and their quantity the floor of the Amazon Rainforest is in permanent darkness. The canopy is so thick that only 1% of sunlight can make it through and it takes about ten minutes for the water to reach the ground.
That's why when you see documentaries about the Amazonian forest, most of the time there's not much light on the screen.
13 Pink Dolphin, a Legendary Creature of Amazonian
This is one of the most incredible Amazon river residents. Pink dolphins can grow larger than humans and there's an interesting legend about them which suggest that these dolphins can transform into handsome men in the evening. Disguised as men, they hypnotize and seduce young women and turn into dolphins again closer to the sunrise.
I don't know where this legend originated from, but looking at this dolphin I can hardly suggest him doing anything like this.
In regards to their skin color, scientists are still not sure why it's pink. They suppose that it happens due to blood capillaries near their skin's surface.
12 Jabuticaba, or a Tree Invading Fruit
This looks a little creepy, doesn't it? Something like a fruit which invades the tree draining all of its vital energy and powers. In fact, it's not an invasion, but just a strange way (like everything Amazonian) the Brazilian grape tree grows. It grows only in the Brazilian part of the Amazon Rainforest (and in some states in Brazil) and in several South American countries and tastes a lot like grape, hence the name.
Big fruits are growing directly on the trunk. They can either be eaten raw or be used to make juice, jelly, wine or jam.
11 Leaf-Mimic Katydid, That Can Fool Anyone
Remember patoo bird, glass frog and decoy building spider? These masters of disguise have a company in the Amazonian. Leaf-mimic katydid has also mastered the art of skillful camouflage so that if it's sitting on a branch it's almost impossible to differentiate it from a leaf. That's why 'leaf-mimic' in their name. But what about 'katydid'? These insects have received this part of their name because of the noise they make while rubbing their legs together. It sounds exactly like 'kay-tee-did'.
It's also interesting that the tempo of their 'stridulation' is conditioned by ambient temperature and you can count the number of 'kay-tee-dids' to measure the temperature on the Fahrenheit scale.
10 Poison Dart Frogs, Both Deadly and Beautiful
According to National Geographic poison dart frogs are some of the most toxic creatures on Earth. The poison of one little golden poison frog is enough to kill 10 grown men. The name of these beautiful, yet very dangerous frogs comes from the old tradition of indigenous people of Colombia to tip their blowgun darts with frog's poison when hunting. Scientists are still not 100% sure about the source of frogs' poison and they assume that it comes from their diet.
Poison dart frogs color can be black, yellow, red, black, green, copper or blue depending on individual habitats. These bright colors help them to ward off potential predators.
9 Amorphophallus Titanum, Amazonian Signature Expression of Giantism
The list of giant Amazonian things continues with this giant flower which reminds an alien monument, rather than a flower. Calling this flower strange would be inappropriate, because it is more than just strange. The name 'Amorphophallus Titanum' is a scientific name of the flower and its nickname is 'corpse flower'. How cute is that? It was named like this due to the disgusting odor which can be smelled when the flower blooms.
However, that happens rarely because it blooms only a few times during its 40 year life span.
8 Jumping Stick, Little Master of Disguise
Now let's take a look at another expert in camouflage from the Amazonian. As you may have already guessed from its name and look, this little guy is proficient in looking like a branch or a stick. Another reason is that he can kick and jump just like a kung fu master. He actually looks like one on the photo. This elongated, odd face with large eyes and grasshopper-like mouth looks very intelligent and wise.
Although jumping stick may resemble a giant walking stick insect, it's more closely related to the Locust.
7 Cupuaçu, Amazonian Relative of Cacao
The cupuaçu which grows on the tropical rainforest tree Theobroma grandiflorum is a relative of cacao. The flesh of cupuaçu has a chocolate fruity flavor which makes it a popular fruit to use in the confectionary industry of Brazil.
The flesh of the fruit can be eaten raw, just as it is and also used in preserves, ice creams, drinks, sorbets, jams, juices and yoghurts. With cupuaçu you can make a lot of dishes which taste like chocolate and replace chocolate in drinks. Brazilians use it to make cupulate, a product that tastes and looks like chocolate, but in contrast with the latter is much more resistant to heat.
6 Bullet Ant You Don't Want to Meet
There's an ant you don't want to meet and it lives in the Amazon Rainforest. Again, it's the world's largest ant and unlike most of other ants it's solitary. There is no certainty in regards to the origins of the ant's name. One theory says that it was named the 'bullet ant' because the pain that comes from its bite can be compared to the pain from bullet shot and the other is that the ant is the size of a bullet. In my opinion,the former reason sounds more adequate because the pain from this ant's bite lasts for 24 hours and its equally intensive during all these hours.
5 Pestalotiopsis Microspora, Plastic Eating Fungus
Pestalotiopsis microspora is an extremely important fungi because it can help us solve the global plastic pollution problem. It was found in the Amazon Rainforest by a student of Yale University Pria Anand. She examined almost 60 samples and one of them was especially significant because it could grow and survive without oxygen. It makes this fungi a powerful tool in eliminating the plastic in the oceans and other places devoid of oxygen.
Research is in early stages, but scientists hope that this fungi can provide a solution to one of the biggest environmental problems of humanity.
4 Tribal People With Unique Traditions
Although the Amazon Rainforest is mostly famous for its incredible creatures and plants, taking into consideration its huge size, it's no wonder that you can also find many indigenous tribes there. The staggering 21 million people call the Amazon home. In fact, indigenous people have always been living there and taking all their food, clothing and medicine from the forest. They live on these lands in a sustainable manner without doing any harm to ecosystem. As a wise indigenous man once said:
"The earth is our historian, our educator, the provider of food, medicine, clothing and protection. She is the mother of our races."
3 Secret River Few People Know About
In addition to the famous Amazon river and less known Boiling River, there's also the Hamza River in the Amazon Rainforest. It's roughly the same length and has even bigger width compared to the Amazon River. So, why does nobody know about it? The reason is that it's an underground river located 4 kilometers under Amazonian.
And it's not a river in our traditional understanding. It's more like a wide trickle of water, compared to wide sweeping waters of the Amazon river above. Although the flow of Hamza River in only 3% of the Amazon, it's no little thing because these 3% discharge 46 times the Thames.
2 Silkhenge Spider, Which Builds Constructions from Silk
Ladies and gentlemen, please take a look at this astonishing example of spider art. This 'Silkhenge' was first discovered in 2013 by Troy Alexander who was visiting Peru's Tambopata National Reserve. He found this 'stonehenge' under a tarpaulin and posted a photo on Reddit seeking help in its identification. But it turned out that nobody could help because it's an unknown phenomenon.
This discovery was named 'silkhenge', but we still don't know what spider is creating it. In theory, the 'mysterious' spider creates these structures to protect eggs and baby spiders from ants.
1 Deforestation That Threatens the Forest and Us
One last weird thing that you can encounter in the Amazon Rainforest is deforestation. According to Scientific American deforestation leads to daily extinction of 135 animals and plant species, or 50,000 species a year. About 1.5 acres of the Amazon Rainforest is disappearing every second. Just imagine for a second how much biodiversity we are losing because of a one minute financial gains.
Today, deforestation in the Amazon is responsible for 30% of global carbon emission, and if things will move with the same speed and in the same direction there will be nothing left of the forest in 40 years. You'll be surprised to know but according to Global Forest Atlas, it is cattle ranching which accounts for 80% of deforestation rates. If not for our own health then for the sake of our planet and our children we should consider cutting down the consumption of red meat to decrease the damage it causes to our planet and us.
Time to understand that we shouldn't bite the hand that feeds us.
References: Culture Trip, Britannica.com, Rainforest Cruises, Live Science, International Expeditions, Go Visit Costa Rica, Rafflesia Flower, Uniglobalgibc, Washington Post, PopSci, National Geographic, Global Forest Atlas, The Guardian