STRANGE Discoveries In The Amazon

From see-through amphibians no bigger than
a thumbnail to steaming hot waters that course through the rainforest, today we look at Strange
Discoveries In The Amazon. Number 10. Solar Halos
When travelling the Tambopata river in Peru, be sure to look to the sky every break in
the canopy for a gorgeous sight that occurs rarely in other parts of the world. Often referred to as a sun or solar halo,
an optical formation decorates the bright sky crafting a variety of spectral effects. Of these different effects arise different
types of halos, with the most common forms being circular halos, light pillars, and sun
dogs. Circular halos occur when a ring of iridescent
light surrounds a light source, occurring sometimes with the moon a well as the sun. Light pillars stretch vertically either above
or below an illumination and sun dogs appear as bright spots along one or opposite sides
of a bright point. These effects occur naturally in the sky when
light refracts through ice crystals in high-elevation cirrus clouds. These clouds are typically associated with
increased rates of precipitation and while they hang 18,000 feet above the surface in
temperate regions, tropical areas raise the clouds an additional 3,000 feet closer to
the sun. Number 9. Macaw Clay Lick
Some of the banks along the Peruvian Amazon basin, in the Tambopata region, are often
covered in a vivid display of colorful feathers as birds come from around the rainforest to
find these special locations. Called Macaw Clay Licks, these land formations
are rich in mineral nutrients that are rarely found elsewhere in the diets of these birds. Macaws, parakeets and parrots form this diverse
group of feathered spice hunters that descend upon the clay shelf. Here the birds strangely consume small bits
of clay, either to provide some sort of sodium supplement or as a means for neutralizing
toxins in their diet. Either way, these vibrant feathered animals
have a raucous , good time, cawing, singing and chirping all the while, making this a
must-see stop for travelers of the region. Number 8. Glass Frogs
One of the Amazon’s most intriguing creatures is the translucent tummied amphibian known
as the glass frog. This unique animal is found all across the
rainforest in a wide variety of sizes and shades, with around 60 species being discovered
throughout the Amazon. The most common of these species is the north
glass frog which measures just barely three quarters to one and a half inches as an adult…approximately
the size of a pair of aspirin tablets! But their miniscule stature isn’t all that
makes these tiny frogs special. Much of the upper surface of the glass frog’s
skin is green and lends itself to camouflage with ease. But its underside is like a biology classroom
display as the glass frog’s translucent abdomen reveals its inner organs in full. This semi-transparency spreads to the frogs
legs as well, allowing it to even more easily conceal itself in the foliage of the surrounding
rainforest. Combine that with their majorly nocturnal
nature and these slippery critters become a headache to hunt for would-be predators. Luckily for tourists, though, visitors to
the Amazon rainforest shouldn’t have too difficult a time finding them as their vast population
spreads across Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. Number 7. River Sharks
The rainforest can be a magical place filled with gorgeous scenery and exotic surprises. These habitats are especially renowned for
their biodiversity, but some regions just might be more diverse than necessary. One creature that’s surprisingly made its
way into the Amazonian ecosystem is the ever-frightening Bull Shark. This fish earns its name with its short, blunt
nose, strong stature, and infamously aggressive nature. They even go so far as to “gore” their prey,
so to speak, ramming it with their stocky face before moving in to attack. Massive aquatic hunters, these sharks can
grow between 7 and 8 feet long and weigh between two and three hundred pounds on average. Some reports have told of even greater specimens
though, weighing as much as 694 pounds and spanning 11 or even 13 feet in length! So what are these gigantic sea predators doing
in the Amazon? Well, the Bull species is a special type known
as a requiem shark, and as such it lives its life in constant migration and prefers warm
seas. Now blend that with the astounding ability
to not only live in saltwater, but also in brackish and fresh water as well and suddenly
the world is the Bull shark’s oyster. Number 6. Mysterious Rings
Farmers across the world have reported a phenomena known as “crop circles” for years, typically
attributing the crop formations on the arrival of extraterrestrials. Perhaps more perplexing, though, are the ringed
ditches that have been found in the Bolivian and Brazilian regions of the Amazon. These apparently human-built structures are
shrouded in mystery, but archaeologists have still been able to glean a lot of information
from what they’ve found. For years, the geoglyphs remained hidden,
but recent deforestation efforts have revealed them in full. One of the first things brought to light by
the discovery of these geoglyphs, as they’ve come to be known, is the amount of foliage
that had to be cleared to make way for them. This alters a lot of what was previously suspected
regarding the Amazon as its been classically thought to be relatively unchanged by native
peoples. Instead, researchers now think these early
tribes may have engaged in slash-and-burn tactics for cultivation, creating these geoglyphs
in the resultant clearing. As for the structures themselves, most hypothesis
revolve around what archaeologists call a neolithic causewayed enclosure…pretty much
a fancy term for public gathering site. Interestingly enough, other ancient formations
that have gotten this label include none other than famed English landmark Stonehenge. Number 5. Pink Dolphins
Within the depths of the Amazon River lies one of the most surprising predators of the
rainforest: the Amazon River dolphin. Unlike their oceanic cousins, these dolphins
have a pink and grey skin tone earning them the more colloquial name of the pink river
dolphin. But this rosy hued feature isn’t the only
thing that sets these dolphins apart from the rest. Weighing in at over 400 pounds and measuring
up to 9 feet long, the Amazon River dolphin is the largest freshwater dolphin in the world. Even at this incredible size, these dolphins
maintain excellent maneuverability and agility thanks to another major difference it boasts
from oceanic dolphins. The cervical vertebrae that make up the neck
portion of the spine are fused together in saltwater dolphins and this limits the movement
of their heads. But Amazon River dolphins lack this fusion,
granting them a full 90 degree turn radius for their heads and necks. And when scouring the river for their next
meal, this comes in especially handy as the biodiverse region holds different species
of darting fish by the dozen. Number 4. Floating Forests
Many of the Amazon’s secrets lurk beneath the surface of its rivers and streams, but
one of the most interesting phenomena of the rainforest actually floats atop those tropical
waterways. The matupas of the Amazon are naturally-occuring,
floating islands of vegetation that arise on the lakes of Central Brazil. As the luscious aquatic undergrowth becomes
oversaturated and gathers, over time a substrate of soil and various organic material will
build up until a nutrient-rich surface develops. From here patches of forests will sprout up
to 12 meters in height. This soil is especially fertile and as such
is highly valued by locals. In some locations, the matupas are used as
plots with crops being planted directly onto the islands. Others will instead opt to collect the soil
itself to improve the fertility of their own gardens. Agriculture isn’t the only benefit they provide
to locals either. Their unique location often make them premiere
fishing spots as fish form homes and feeding habits around the vegetation beneath and surrounding
the matupas . Number 3. Tricky Spiders
Across the Peruvian region of the Amazon Forest are a new species of spider out of the Cyclosa
family that crafts a nightmarish sculpture within the webs it spins. Utilizing the carcasses of prey along with
various jungle debris, these small spiders, only a few millimeters in size, construct
exponentially larger decoys! The building materials are arranged on their
web in the shape of a half-dollar sized spider, eight legs and all. This intriguing biological phenomena was just
discovered in 2012 around the same time as another decoy constructing spider…found
11,000 miles away! The purpose of these sculptures and the reason
behind both of these spiders evolving similarly across the world are still under debate by
scientists. Regardless, these decoy spiders are one of
the most incredible discoveries in the Amazon’s recent history. Number 2. The Boiling River
Perhaps one of the most perilous features in the Amazon rainforest is the natural anomaly
of the Boiling River. Reaching temperatures of more than 200 degrees
Fahrenheit, the river stretches for five and a half miles, but less than 4 of those miles
on the lower end is where the real danger is posed. Animals that fall into the water in this region
are boiled alive and the heat of the river is enough to terminate full grown people as
well. One of the oddities of the rivers existence,
though, is the lack of the usual heat sources for such violently blistering temperatures. No volcanoes or fumaroles surround the area,
and even stranger, the river actually begins as a cold stream. The best hypothesis offered by scientists
right now suspects that water actually enters the river through cracks in the earth and
thus carrying heat from inner layers of the planet. No matter where it comes from though, the
water is highly cherished by locals as the Boiling River is though to provide healing
benefits and empower nearby flora. Number 1. Giant Snakes
The legendary giant snakes of the rainforest are more than just regional superstition. The infamous green anacondas of the Amazon
rainforest are not only the heaviest and thickest snake of the region but also the world! On average these titanic serpents can grow
around 18 feet in length, weigh nearly 500 or more pounds and gets to be about a foot
wide in girth. But these measurements are relatively tame
as some reports tell of individual specimens measuring 30 feet or more! Capable of overpowering jungle creatures as
large as jaguars, these monstrous reptiles prowl the floors of the river as well as the
jungle, scouring for any prey they can wrap in their powerful coils before swallowing
it whole.

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