13 Amazing/Extraordinary/Jungle, etc Discoveries
Arapaima (era-pai-mah) — These carnivorous fish have been around for such a long time, they’re considered living fossils. How long? Since the Miocene (mya-seen) Epoch, which extended from around 23 million to 5 million years ago. These giant fish have armor-like scales, and are native to the Amazon Basin of South America and can measure up to 10 feet long. Did you known that in South America, Arapaima tongue is believed to have medicinal uses, such as killing intestinal worms.
Amazonian Giant Centipede — The sheer size of these venomous arthropods is enough to stop you in your tracks. An adult centipede can measure over 14 inches (35 centimeters) long, around the length of a man’s forearm. Found in the Amazon Jungle, these carnivorous creatures will chow down on many smaller animals including lizards, birds and mice. They’re surprisingly fast and can scale walls in search of prey. That climbing ability allows them to climb up the sides of cave walls to a position where they can dangle from the ceiling. From that position the centipede can snatch bats from out of the air as they pass by. While their venom can cause a reaction on human skin, it’s too weak to kill an adult human. But it can provoke symptoms like swelling, fever and weakness.
Jesus Lizard — These lizards are commonly known as basilisks (bazzle-lisk), but the name Jesus Lizard is a little more memorable. That name refers to the lizard’s’ ability to ‘run’ across water. They have flaps between their toes that create pockets of air. With a larger surface created, they get the lift needed to race across the water. They can run approximately 15 feet, at speeds up to 5 feet per second, before sinking through the surface and swimming with all fours. They can add another 4 feet to the distance travelled while water-walking by using all four limbs. They’re found in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America.
Giant River Otter — Reaching lengths of 7 feet, these creatures more than live up to their name. They’re found in the Amazon River and tend to favor meals of fish and crabs. Unfortunately, hunters were eager for their pelts and nearly exterminated the creature. Because of that, it’s one of the most endangered species of the Amazon.
Toucan — You might think you’re looking at Toucan Sam, the mascot of Fruit Loops cereal … but this Toucan is one of the most recognizable creatures of the Amazon Rainforest. Did you know this bird’s bill is half the length of its body? While that bill looks like it might make the bird tip over, it’s made out of keratin, a lightweight spongy material. Toucans are related to woodpeckers, but they don’t bore holes in trees … but they do live in empty woodpecker nests.
Potoo (pah-too) — These rather creepy looking birds have a haunting call that earns them the nickname “Poor-me-ones”. Chances are you’ve seen these guys around online, as their perturbed appearance yielded a number of Internet memes. These animals are found throughout Central and South America, and do their hunting at night usually preying on insects like beetles and grasshoppers. Check out this Potoo picture from Gravity-kitty .. Any memes come to mind? Tell us the comments!
Tiny Frog — A frog the size of a pea was found living in a Borneo rainforest. Researchers spotted the tiny amphibian on a mountain road in 2006 in the Kubah National Park. Adult males of this species measure up to around half an inch. You can gain a greater sense of perspective in this picture by Indraneil Das. You can see that the creature easily fits on a pencil point. Researchers said the frogs emit harsh, rasping notes around dusk. Following those noises led them to the miniscule creatures. Think you’d want one for a pet?
Peanut Head Bug — Thanks to it enlarged forehead, it’s easy to see where this bug gets its name from. Found in jungles of South and Central America, they grow to around 3 inches long. Red and black spots on its underwings have the appearance of large eyes, a defense mechanism to scare off predators. There’s a myth associated with these animals: If a person is bitten by the bug, they’ll die within 24 hours … unless they have sex. Don’t know if it’s true but it would make for a boss pick up line.
Parrot Party — Why do hundreds of parrots congregate in certain areas of the rainforest? It was finally learned that the birds were attracted to areas rich in clay, called clay licks. Parrots eat a lot of seeds and nuts through the day. Licking the clay helps neutralize the toxins picked up from those foods. The world’s largest known clay lick is in Amazon Rain Forest of southeastern Peru. And every morning before sunrise the clay licking commences. Macaws, parakeets, and other birds are also invited to the party.
Binturong (bin-too-wrong)– Found in the jungle regions of Southeast asia, including Vietnam and Malaysia, this animal is also known as the Asian bearcat … but it’s neither. Growing up to 3 feet long (not counting the tail) and weighing up to 50 pounds, it’s actually most closely related to the civets, a diverse family of carnivores. While they do eat meat, the Binturong they’re very fond of fruit, especially grapes, according to the San Diego Zoo. Because they live high in the trees, they’re not often spotted in the wild. Did you know the Binturong marks its territory with a scent reminiscent of buttered popcorn … to human nostrils, anyway.
Platonia (plah-tone-ee-uh) Fruit — Found in the Amazon Rainforest, it grows on the Plantonia Tree and is known by several names including bacuri (batchery). Resembling a papaya, the pulp is sticky and fragrant, with a sweet and sour taste. The tree’s fruit also yields a number of uses … It can be made into condiments and beverages … and its oily brown seeds can be used to create a remedy to treat skin conditions. In addition, the bark of the Plantonia tree is often used as timber.
The Sapodilla (sapa-deeya) — Did you know the Aztecs and Mayans developed the first chewing gum from this egg-shaped fruit? It’s bark has a gummy, white sap called chicle (chee-clay). There’s a yellow fruit inside that tastes like a pear when eaten. The Sapodilla is considered Central America’s best fruit and and is a favorite of many Amazon rainforest mammals including howler monkeys. It’s native to Belize, Mexico and northeastern Guatemala.
Carnivorous Pitcher Plant — Pitcher plants, named for their jug-like appearance, normally lure in prey by secreting nectar along their rim, usually insects and the odd amphibian. In 2009, a new species of pitcher plant was discovered on Mount Victoria in the Philippines. This one has a taste for rats. It uses a sweet nectar to lure in the rodent … when it leans in to drink the nectar, it slips on the pitcher’s interior where it’s trapped in a gooey sap. Digestive enzymes work like acid to disintegrate the still-living rodent.