South America is a place of extremes. It is home to the largest river (the Amazon), the driest desert (Atacama), the longest mountain range (the Andes), the highest waterfall (Angel Falls), and 5 of the top 10 most biodiverse countries. With such a range of environments and ecosystems, it’s no surprise that South America is home to a diverse selection of cute, creepy, tiny, massive, and sometime just strange creatures.
Over the next couple of months, we’re going to highlight several these South American animals. Some you’re likely to see during a visit to South America, others are so rare or endangered that you’ll never know they’re there. Perhaps the best thing about South American wildlife is that we keep uncovering more of it. In 2012, an international team of scientists organized by Conservation International announced they discovered 46 new species after exploring the Amazon in Suriname, the continent’s smallest sovereign state. When one considers the entire country of Suriname is 64,000 square miles while the expanse of the Amazon biome is 4.16 million square miles, the thought of what other species are yet to be discovered is tantalizing.
Experts believe South America’s biodiversity may date back to the continent’s formation. During the Paleogene and Neogene eras (65 to 2.6 million years ago) South America was isolated from other landmasses. This is the time period mammals are believed to have evolved from smaller, simpler creatures into the complex collection of warm-blooded animals we have today.
Keep an eye on our social media account as well as this blog to learn about the following animals in South America:
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Thanks to Benedict Adam for the title image of this blog.