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

Videos reveal rare birds, wild monkeys, and jaguar family in oil-exploited park

(05/11/2015) A compilation of new camera trap videos from Yasuni National Park shows off rarely seen species like the rufuos-vented ground cuckoo and the short-eared dog as well as odd behavior, like sloths licking salt from the ground. The compilation is produced by Diego Mosquera, manager and head of the camera trap program at Tiputini Biodiversity Station.

Featured video: the Uncharted Amazon trailer

(04/29/2015) The up-coming documentary, Uncharted Amazon, promises to highlight both the little-seen wildlife and the people of the Las Piedras River system in the Peruvian Amazon, one of the most remote wildernesses on the planet.

Photos: expedition to Amazon’s white sands may have found new primate

(03/24/2015) Most people think of the Amazon rainforest as one massive, homogenous ecosystem—a giant castle of green. However, within the Amazon rainforest lie a myriad of distinct ecosystems, sporting unique characteristics and harboring endemic species. One of the rarer ecosystems in the Amazon is the white sands forest.

Photo essay: filming in the remote Amazon

(03/09/2015) You wake up at 4:30 AM, a little before the first rays of tropical sun begin to dance behind the treetops. You put on your wet clothes from the previous day, pack your bag, and pick up your tripod. The jungle is shrouded in a thick mist from the previous nights rain. As you walk, you recognize many of the strange calls that echo between the trees.

New tapir? Scientists dispute biological discovery of the century

(11/13/2014) Nearly a year ago, scientists announced an incredible discovery: a new tapir species from the western Amazon in Brazil and Colombia. The announcement was remarkable for a number of reasons: this was the biggest new land mammal discovered in more than 20 years and was only the fifth tapir known to the world. But within months other researchers expressed doubt over the veracity of the new species.

Scientists uncover five new species of 'toupee' monkeys in the Amazon

(09/02/2014) While saki monkeys may be characterized by floppy mops of hair that resemble the worst of human toupees, these acrobatic, tree-dwelling primates are essential for dispersing seeds. After long being neglected by both scientists and conservationists, a massive research effort by one intrepid researcher has revealed the full-scale of saki monkey diversity, uncovering five new species.

No longer 'deaf as a stump': researchers find turtles chirp, click, meow, cluck

(07/25/2014) Turtles comprise one of the oldest living groups of reptiles, with hundreds of species found throughout the world. Many have been well-researched, and scientists know very specific things about their various evolutionary histories, metabolic rates, and the ways in which their sexes are determined. But there was one very obvious thing that has been largely left unknown by science until very recently. Turtles can make sounds.

Scientists: Neotropical otter should not be considered threatened

(06/24/2014) The Neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis) should not be considered threatened by the IUCN Red List, according to a new paper in's open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Currently the species is listed as Data Deficient, but was considered Vulnerable until 2000.

Camera trap captures first ever video of rarely-seen bird in the Amazon...and much more

(06/17/2014) A camera trap program in Ecuador's embattled Yasuni National Program has struck gold, taking what researchers believe is the first ever film of a wild nocturnal curassow (Nothocrax urumutum). In addition, the program has captured video of other rarely-seen animals, including the short-eared dog and the giant armadillo.

After throwing out referendum, Ecuador approves oil drilling in Yasuni's embattled heart

(06/02/2014) By 2016, oil drilling will begin in what scientists believe is the most biodiverse place on the planet: remote Yasuni National Park. Late last month, Ecuador announced it had approved permits for oil drilling in Yasuni's Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputinin (ITT) block, an untouched swathe of primary rainforest covering around 100,000 hectares or about 10 percent of the park.

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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