Amazon Rainforest Holds Many Surprises

amazon rainforest

Welcome to the Amazon rainforest!

The Amazon Rainforest…

…is perhaps one the most remarkable places on the planet. It is teeming with such a vast multitude of various life forms. Many of these different species remain undiscovered and are buried deep within the forest. This not-quite-half-full understanding the the world’s largest forests leaves the door open to explorers and animal scientists to really learn something new.

The Amazon is teeming with life. It is a birders paradise containing more species than any other ecosystem, and there are more than 4,000 species of butterflies. The lush forests of the [Amazon rainforest] basin are home to reptiles, amphibians, primates, tapirs, capybaras, even jaguars. The river itself contains freshwater dolphins, manatee and more than 2,000 species of fish which incidentally is more species than has been recorded for the entire Atlantic Ocean! 

With all the various coexisting lifeforms in the amazon rainforest, evolution itself has evolved into an art. Species are forced to specialize and that has caused all sorts of gnarly adaptations. To display an example of this extreme evolution, one needs only to look at the candiru fish. This infamous creature:

… parasitizes the waste ducts of aquatic animals, and apparently finds human orifices irresistible.

Which, you know, is horribly terrifying.

Related Article: Costly Climate Changes.

… Is Home to the Capybara

I'll take all of 'em, every single capybara in the Amazon rainforest.

I’ll take all of ’em, every single capybara in the Amazon rainforest.

One of my favorite animals living in the Amazon rainforest is the capybara. It appears to be the result of genetically fusing a dog and a guinea pig and then mating its offspring with an otter. The spawn of that mythical creature would likely look similar to a capybara. Officially the worlds largest rodent–with the obvious exception of R.U.O.S.— the capybara roams in herds which range from 10-100 rodent- monsters in size.

In true Amazon rainforest fashion, capybaras are talented on both land and water and can hold their breath for five minutes if they need to escape predators. They are herbivores and extremely picky at that. You’ve got to be picky if you’re going to eat the same food more than once. Capybaras are coprophagous. This means that they eat their own waste in order to maintain a healthy amount of bacteria used for digestion. Yum.

Related Article: Climate Changes Too Fast, Evolution Can’t Keep Up.

… Has Many Different Types of Electric Fish!

There Amazon rainforest is teeming with different aquatic life. Electric eels have held–or provided energy for– the spotlight for some time. Science has studied their ways and has made at least one attempt to inform the public that these “eels” are actually knife fish. These swimming knives with electric capabilities are able to put out about 600 volts. The Electrophorus is interesting and all but there’s some new fish in the stream.

Amazon rainforest electric fishSome folks from Cornell University recently discovered two new electric fish in the Amazon rainforest. Brachyhypopomus bennetti and Brachyhypopomus walteri   The weird thing is that these fish are electric in different ways.

the most significant difference between the two is the type of electric signals they generate. Most electric fish, including B. walteri, produce electric signals with both a positive and negative phase: an alternating current signal. (See a picture of another species of electric knifefish.) But B. bennetti is different. Its electric signals are more like direct current in that they have one phase rather than two, according to the study, led by John Sullivan of Cornell University.

Unlike the voltage of their phoney-eel river mates, the Brachyhypopomus school puts out significantly lower levels of electricity. The B. benneti and B. walteri fish can be found most often in Amazonian Floating Meadows.

This only scratches the surface of the marvels that lurk, slither, and fly within the Amazon rainforest.  For more information about the Amazon rainforest, please visit the WWF Amazon rainforest page.

Related Article: Conservation Efforts of Earth’s Seven Continents


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Obese? Got a Fatty Liver? No Problem. Spinach & Nuts Have You Covered


Besides the obvious reasons for eating spinach and nuts, like losing weight and eating real food, they can also aid in fighting fatty liver disease. For the first time, a correlation between vitamin E and symptoms of fatty liver disease caused by obesity has been uncovered. Fatty liver disease occurs when 5-10% of the weight of your liver comes from fat. It can be caused by alcoholic and non-alcoholic means.

The collaborators, from Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Cornell University, discovered that the essential nutrient vitamin E can alleviate symptoms of liver disease brought on by obesity.

The implications of our findings could have a direct impact on the lives of the approximately 63 million Americans who are at potential risk for developing obesity-related liver disease in their lifetimes,

says Danny Manor, an associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Eating leafy greens such as spinach, as well as nuts and sunflower oils, could help battle the symptoms of fatty liver disease since they contain high amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E has many beneficial health altering properties such as protection against toxins like air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

The Fatty Liver Test

Dr Manor tested this hypothesis on a group of mice that were in the advanced stage of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). It’s a common symptom of obesity by fat accumulation and inflammation in the fatty liver. The team deprived the group of mice of vitamin E and recorded an increase of fat deposition and other liver problems in the mice. Once vitamin E supplements were given to the mice, these symptoms ceased to exist.

Lessons Learned
  • The vast majority of adults do not consume enough vitamin E. This is most likely due to the increased consumption of processed foods which are not rich in Vitamin E for the most part.
  • We need to consume more vegetables, nuts and seeds, or a supplement, in order to get our daily vitamin E intake as well as to lose weight and avoid fatty liver symptoms.