Amazon Rainforest Animals

Rainforests in general are home to more than 50 percent of the plants and animals on Earth, and since the Amazon rainforest comprises of more than half that entire amount, it is not surprising that an equally large, range indigenous of animals live here too.

Just to put the richness of rainforests into perspective, here are some interesting facts: of the world’s 250,000 known plant species 170,000 are exclusive to rainforests; while the United States boasts a collection of 81 frog species, an equal land mass of the Amazon rainforest harbours around 1000 catalogued species of frog, and many, many more yet to be discovered. An area of rainforest sized no more than one hectare which equates to about 2 football fields would have more than 400 species of trees (and this is a conservative estimate!) most of which is not found anywhere else on the planet; while an equal area of forest in the United States may have fewer than 20, most of which are spread across the rest of the northern temperate zone, including Europe and Asia. Europe has 570 species of butterfly, but Manu National Park in Peru, has 1,300 species in an area of less than 19,000 square kilometres.

Anolis Nitens

But there must be a few reasons why these animals all live here and nowhere else, right? Absolutely. One of the main reasons why is because rainforests are located in tropical regions and therefore receive a lot of direct, intense sunlight. Even though this means fewer hours of sun bathing, it also means you get your tan twice as fast, and that is just what the cold blooded animals here do. They have ample amounts of heat early on in the day which ensures a productive breakfast, lunch and early dinner for all the reptiles which live here. Also the since plants constantly produce food with the help of sunlight by the process of photosynthesis, there is always an abundance of food for all the herbivores and thereby plenty to eat for the carnivores.

The canopy is another big reason why animals find the Amazon rainforests so irresistible. The canopy is a structure of the rainforest which is basically an umbrella formed by the foliage of tall trees, all of which race to reach the sunlight first. This provides a unique habitat for the growth of some very peculiar animals to live. The sloth, for instance, would have gone extinct (and all its ancient cousins have gone extinct) if they had lived anywhere else than in the canopies of the Amazonian rainforest. Their slow, sluggish nature makes them an ideal free lunch to any passing predator, but up in their canopy home they can safely hide away, making a risky venture to the bottom only when they need to move to another tree (that is, if they cannot do that by swinging across, or if they fall down while trying).

While most people fixate on the plant life of the Amazon just for their medicinal properties, they completely forget about the vast wealth of animals which may prove just as useful. If snake venom can yield anti-venom, isn’t is possible that some other frog or animal might at least point us in the right direction in the quest for new drugs
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  • Anonymous on Fri, 03/02/2012 - 20:55

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