Amazon Wildlife

By Rhett Butler [citation]

The Amazon is home to more species of plants and animals than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet -- perhaps 30% of the world's species are found there. Its biodiversity is astounding: a single bush in the Amazon may have more species of ants than the entire British Isles, while a lone hectare of forest may have more than 600 species of trees.

Take a look at some of these examples of the Amazon's biological richness:

Amazon biodiversity by the numbers:
  • 40,000 plant species
  • 16,000 tree species
  • 5600 fish species
  • 1300 birds
  • 430+ mammals
  • 1000+ amphibians
  • 400+ reptiles

Recent news articles on Amazon biodiversity

Oil or rainforest: new website highlights the plight of Yasuni National Park

(03/20/2014) A new multimedia feature story by Brazilian environmental news group, ((o))eco, highlights the ongoing debate over Yasuni National Park in Ecuador, arguably the most biodiverse place on the planet.

Scientist discovers a plethora of new praying mantises (pictures)

(03/19/2014) Despite their pacific name, praying mantises are ferocious top predators with powerful, grasping forelimbs; spiked legs; and mechanistic jaws. In fact, imagine a tiger that can rotate its head 180 degrees or a great white that blends into the waves and you'll have a sense of why praying mantises have developed a reputation. Yet, many praying mantis species remain little known to scientists, according to a new paper in ZooKeys that identifies an astounding 19 new species from the tropical forests of Central and South America.

Several Amazonian tree frog species discovered, where only two existed before

(03/18/2014) We have always been intrigued by the Amazon rainforest with its abundant species richness and untraversed expanses. Despite our extended study of its wildlife, new species such as the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), a bear-like carnivore hiding out in the Ecuadorian rainforest, are being identified as recently as last year. In fact, the advent of efficient DNA sequencing and genomic analysis has revolutionized how we think about species diversity. Today, scientists can examine known diversity in a different way, revealing multiple 'cryptic' species that have evaded discovery by being mistakenly classified as a single species based on external appearance alone.

Mother of God: meet the 26 year old Indiana Jones of the Amazon, Paul Rosolie

(03/17/2014) Not yet 30, Paul Rosolie has already lived a life that most would only dare dream of—or have nightmares over, depending on one's constitution. With the Western Amazon as his panorama, Rosolie has faced off jaguars, wrestled anacondas, explored a floating forest, mentored with indigenous people, been stricken by tropical disease, traveled with poachers, and hand-reared a baby anteater. It's no wonder that at the ripe age of 26, Rosolie was already written a memoir: Mother of God.

Amazon trees super-diverse in chemicals

(03/03/2014) In the Western Amazon—arguably the world's most biodiverse region—scientists have found that not only is the forest super-rich in species, but also in chemicals. Climbing into the canopy of thousands of trees across 19 different forests in the region—from the lowland Amazon to high Andean cloud forests—the researchers sampled chemical signatures from canopy leaves and were surprised by the levels of diversity uncovered.

New $20,000 reporting grant explores benefits of Amazonian protected areas

(02/21/2014) With six Special Reporting Initiatives (SRI) already under way, is excited to announce a call for applications for its latest journalism grant topic: Amazonian protected areas: benefits for people. The Amazon’s system of protected areas has grown exponentially in the past 25 years. In many South American nations, the mission of protected areas has expanded from biodiversity conservation to improving human welfare. However, given the multiple purposes and diverse management of many protected areas, it is often difficult to measure their effect on human populations.

Featured video: camera traps catch jaguars, anteaters, and a sloth eating clay in the Amazon rainforest

(02/13/2014) These are sights that have rarely been seen by human eyes: a stealthy jaguar, a bustling giant armadillo, and, most amazingly, a sloth slurping up clay from the ground. A new compilation of camera trap videos from Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorean Amazon shows a staggering array of species, many cryptic and rare.

High-living frogs hurt by remote oil roads in the Amazon

(01/14/2014) Often touted as low-impact, remote oil roads in the Amazon are, in fact, having a large impact on frogs living in flowers in the upper canopy, according to a new paper published in PLOS ONE. In Ecuador's Yasuni National Park, massive bromeliads grow on tall tropical trees high in the canopy and may contain up to four liters of standing water. Lounging inside this micro-pools, researchers find a wide diversity of life, including various species of frogs. However, despite these frogs living as high as 50 meters above the forest floor, a new study finds that proximity to oil roads actually decreases the populations of high-living frogs.

Top 10 HAPPY environmental stories of 2013

(12/19/2013) China begins to tackle pollution, carbon emissions: As China's environmental crisis worsens, the government has begun to unveil a series of new initiatives to curb record pollution and cut greenhouse emissions. The world's largest consumer of coal, China's growth in emissions is finally slowing and some experts believe the nation's emissions could peak within the decade. If China's emissions begin to fall, so too could the world's.

Scientists make one of the biggest animal discoveries of the century - a new tapir

(12/16/2013) In what will likely be considered one of the biggest (literally) zoological discoveries of the Twenty-First Century, scientists today announced they have discovered a new species of tapir in Brazil and Colombia. The new mammal, hidden from science but known to local indigenous tribes, is actually one of the biggest animals on the continent, although it's still the smallest living tapir. Described in the Journal of Mammology, the scientists have named the new tapir Tapirus kabomani after the name for 'tapir' in the local Paumari language: Arabo kabomani.

Rainforest calendars

Rainforest Calendar

Amazon Rainforest Calendar

Owl butterfly (Caligo idomeneus)
Owl butterfly (Caligo idomeneus)

Capybara leaving water with a bird on its back
Capybara leaving water with a bird on its back

Scarlet macaw (Ara macao)
Scarlet macaw (Ara macao)

Dusky Titi Monkey (Callicebus spp.)
Dusky Titi Monkey (Callicebus spp.)

Hyla rhodopepla tree frog on leaf
Hyla rhodopepla tree frog on leaf

Clear-winged Cithaerias pireta butterfly feeding on dung
Clear-winged Cithaerias pireta butterfly feeding on dung

Blue-and-yellow macaws (Ara ararauna), Yellow-crowned parrots (Amazona ochrocephala), and Scarlet macaws feeding on clay
Blue-and-yellow macaws (Ara ararauna), Yellow-crowned parrots (Amazona ochrocephala), and Scarlet macaws feeding on clay

Brown Agouti (Dasyprocta variegata) on clay lick
Brown Agouti (Dasyprocta variegata) on clay lick

Unknown bright green lizard in the Peruvian Amazon
Unknown bright green lizard in the Peruvian Amazon

Chestnut Eared Araçari (Pteroglossus castanotis)
Chestnut Eared Araçari (Pteroglossus castanotis)

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)

Jaguar (Panthera onca)

Orange, green, black, yellow, and turquoise grasshopper

Red howler monkey howling


Brown tree frog near Puerto Nariño

Boa constrictor in defensive mode

Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri sciureus)

Common green iguana (Iguana iguana) on a tree trunk in the Amazon rainforest

Red insect

Brown spider

Woolly monkey

Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)
Monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor)

Three-striped Poison dart frog (Epipedobates trivittatus)
Three-striped Poison dart frog (Epipedobates trivittatus)

Hyla tree frog species
Hyla tree frog species

Blue-and-yellow macaws flying toward clay lick
Blue-and-yellow macaws flying toward clay lick

Hyla tree frog close up
Hyla tree frog close up

Harpy Eagle, Harpia harpyja, in Colombia

Poisonous caterpillar displaying its neon green but venemous spines

Borugo (Agouti taczanowskii)

Red howler monkey

Green macaw

Leaf toad in the Amazon

More Amazon wildlife photos

Brazil | Colombia | Peru

(NEXT Amazon rainforest destruction)

For kids











  • Brazil could halt Amazon deforestation within a decade
  • Concerns over deforestation may drive new approach to cattle ranching in the Amazon
  • Are we on the brink of saving rainforests?
  • Amazon deforestation doesn't make communities richer, better educated, or healthier
  • Brazil's plan to save the Amazon rainforest
  • Beef consumption fuels rainforest destruction
  • How to save the Amazon rainforest
  • Oil development could destroy the most biodiverse part of the Amazon
  • Future threats to the Amazon rainforest
  • Half the Amazon rainforest will be lost within 20 years
  • Can cattle ranchers and soy farmers save the Amazon rainforest?
  • Globalization could save the Amazon rainforest
  • Amazon natives use Google Earth, GPS to protect forest home


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