10. The Amazon River used to flow in the opposite direction
For years there had been a lot of problems with the Amazon for geologists. It stumped them to see sediments carried out to sea, as the oldest of them were found upstream from their source. This is the opposite direction from the normal course the water flows in. They were able to find that, until the Cretaceous Period, the Amazon actually used to flow east to west.
This differs from the normal flow of west fo east today. They found that it was not until the Andes Mountains began to rise around 100 million years ago that the Amazon River ended up reversing its course. It was a surprising turn of events to find that the river once flowed in the opposite direction to what it does now. However, it was one heck of an amazing discovery.
You may not realize this, but the Amazon Rainforest is responsible for a ton of water found in the world’s oceans. The Amazon Rainforest gives up around 55 million gallons of water every second of the day that flows right into the Atlantic Ocean. As you may be aware, all of the oceans connect at some point to each other.
This means that we’re likely seeing water that once came from the Amazon as far north as the Arctic as well as places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Indian Ocean. Despite flowing into the Atlantic, the flow of all of this water results in a supply of water that will only continue to raise sea levels.
While more lived in the Amazon Rainforest before Europeans arrived and likely would have been much more today, there are a little less than one million Indigenous people living here today. They are spread out in around 400 different tribes, with many that have had contact with people from the outside world for hundreds of years. They even have access to Western medicine and education! There are some that have remained isolated from the outside world since they began.
They may know of outsiders but choose to not make contact. Some contact tribal people have had were horrific. They often dealt with loggers, miners, and ranchers that have not only killed tribal members but also took them on as slaves. In July 2018, Brazilian Authorities were able to take an image of the “indigenous man in the hole.” He is the sole survivor of his tribe, who were killed by farmers in 1995. He has rejected outside visitors, but government quietly leaves him tools and seeds.
While Poison Dart Frogs are absolutely gorgeous, they have nothing on the Amazon’s Glass Frog. It looks exactly as you might think too. They are typically green in color and completely transparent. Their skin is so easily seen through that you can actually see their inner organs. This is not exactly lovely, but it has made life much easier for scientists!
Due to their skin being so transparent, the environment they are in plays a huge role in their appearance. They take on the look of it entirely, which makes it incredibly hard for predators to spot them. Evolution is a funny thing, but it can create some absolutely incredible things. The glass frog is a huge example of that.
It is uncertain if the creature or creatures actually exist, but the Mapiguary Monster stories are rampant here. It is thought that it is only one creature but some believe that multiple of these creatures exist. Apparently, this monster is 7 foot tall that stinks so much, it can make hunters dizzy and even disoriented. No bones or even connections to the monster have been found.
It seems that these monster stories have passed down from generation to generation. This comes off like a form of the game known as “telephone.” You know that game you played as a kid. You get into a big line where the first person is told a secret and then it’s whispered into everyone’s ear all the way down the line. Often when the story made it to the end of the line, it changed a lot. This story passed down over 10,000 years. Who knows how true it really is?
When you think of seeing a Humpback Whale, it is never assumed that you’ll come across them in the Amazon River or anywhere close to the Amazon. However, that is exactly what happened in February of 2019. A dead humpback whale was discovered near the mouth of the Amazon River.
It is known that whales do migrate back and forth between poles, but they are never in this area. In fact, the feeding grounds this whale is expected to frequent are 4,000 miles from the Amazon Rainforest. The theory is that this whale somehow got separated from its larger whale group as well as its mother. Nothing more is known at this time sadly.
We’ve called this place the Amazon Rainforest for an incredibly long period of time. Yet one of the biggest secrets of the Amazon Rainforest for some time seemed to be how the place got its name. While people lived here for thousands of years, a proper name did not come to the region until 1542. When the Spanish arrived, they were discovering everything for the outside world. This need to discover the area led to Spanish soldier Francisco de Orellana being sent to explore it.
He was the very first to do so for the outside world. Arriving in 1541, he spent a year exploring and returned to Spain with tales of gold and cinnamon found there. It turns out, he was even attacked by tribal women protecting their territory. He thought they were so fierce that he named them Amazons. This is a reference to the female warriors from the Greek Mythological stories. The name would stick, leading to the official Amazon Rainforest title shortly after.
When you are about to go into the Amazon Rainforest, many depart out of Brazil’s Manaus Region. This led to a paranormal writer Michael Cohen heading to the area. He decided to take a picture in 2011 with two British tourists to the area. It turns out, he caught an amazing image with something very interesting in the background. As the picture shows, it does not look like a life-form that would be in this area or of this world.
This area is also well-known for being a place to spot UFOs. It is speculated that aliens love the Amazon Rainforest due to the impressive biodiversity of the area. This has become such a big deal that the Brazilian Government sent in their high-level investigation team for something they called “Operation Prato.” The team monitored the area for alien presence for a long period of time. It was covered up by the government for several years until it was finally declassified.
When you think about the major secrets of the Amazon Rainforest, it is likely you’ve heard of Parana fish. These fish are believed to eat anything that seems to be in their way. In reality, this is not true. Like sharks, when they smell blood in the water, they pounce. However, they do not randomly attack anything or anyone.
We cannot say the same about a certain fish found here. There are several types of Vampire Fish here, with the most common being the Candiru and Payara. In fact, there are stories of Candiru swimming up inside human urethras. Meanwhile, Payaras have been known to bite human flesh off. They even have Vampire Teeth! All are found throughout the Amazon, in just about every place the Amazon River flows through.
1. The Amazon Rainforest was one big experiment that got out of hand?
Probably the biggest secret of the Amazon Rainforest may very well be one people will be shocked to hear. In 2017, a study found that the Amazon Rainforest was likely an experiment that got out of hand. Researchers believe that while it may appear wild and completely uncharted, ancient Amazonian people likely were doing one of the world’s earliest farming experiments.
Things went well, as it resulted in the Brazilian Nut Tree and even Palm Trees. Many of these are found where humans tend to be, leading to the idea that they were deliberately planted by ancient people. It is unknown how much experimentation that did, but it’s clear that human beings played a big role in shaping the rainforest. Did things get out of hand? Possibly, but these experiments led to the richest biodiversity on the planet.
The Amazon Is Perhaps The Last Known Home For Jaguars
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the few known areas on the planet where the Jaguar can be found. While they have also been known for living in the extreme southern United States and Mexico, there are very few there. While its cousin the Panther is present here, it’s more abundant than the Jaguar itself. That said, the most common area to see them today would be the Amazon. In particular, the Brazilian section tends to be the most Jaguar populated.
There are said to be roughly 6,000 to 7,000 of the species remaining here. However, due to tribal hunting or illegal hunting, they have been dying off slowly for years. This on top of problematic deforestation. While they are more active at night, Jaguars sort of luck out in the Amazon. Since a large portion is shaded, they are capable of hiding and not being spotted by potential prey as easily. They are gifted climbers but they can also swim quite well, which means their prey is as good as dead.
Average Temperatures In The Amazon Are Pretty Consistent
The Amazon Rainforest certainly lucks out compared to other places around the world. They tend to keep to a similar temperature regardless of the time you go. One of the secrets of the Amazon Rainforest that few people talk about is that the humidity is present all year too. Even during the dry season, you’re not going to get rid of the humidity. During this point of the year, which is usually from June to October, the daily temperature is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the rainy season, however, there is a shift in temperature for obvious reasons. The rainy season tends to be from November to May, where about 60% of the Amazon’s rainfall occurs during the year. During this time, it can get to about 12 degrees cooler than normal during the day. This still puts the rainforest temp at 88 degrees, without adding in humidity! The air feels incredibly muggy during this point of the year, and it can be miserable if you’re not used to it.
The cool part about the Amazon is that it is home to a ton of unique, amazing creatures. One of the hidden secrets of the Amazon Rainforest is that it is home to 430 different species of mammals. This is without counting mankind, of course. As we referenced previously, the Jaguar lives here. Yet several other big cats like the Panther & Puma are present, as well as smaller predatory cats like the Ocelot too.
Of course, the Amazon Rainforest is also home to multiple monkey species. Also as referenced above, they have one of the few species of River Dolphin on the planet too. Yes, dolphins happen to be mammals. It is also known for having the largest otter species, which is properly referred to simply as the “Giant Otter.” The Rainforest also has unique animals like the Tapir and Capybara. This is just to name only a few that one can see there.
We all assume there are a ton of trees in the Amazon Rainforest, which is not without merit. They do have quite a lot, even with the forest fires that have happened over the years. Yet one of the secrets of the Amazon Rainforest is that they also have 16,000 different species of tree. To understand how much this is, we only know of 60,000 tree species worldwide. That’s more than 25% of the world’s tree species population!
Moreover, the nations with the most trees on the planet are Brazil, Columbia, and Indonesia. Of course, two of those nations happen to be home to a portion of the Amazon Rainforest. Each contains roughly 5,000 different tree species, making Brazil and Columbia account for at least 10,000 of the 16,000 tree species in the Amazon. On top of that, in spite of all the issues the tree population has had, there are still around 390 BILLION individual trees present there!
Absent any major forest fire in history, the Amazon loses quite a lot of trees on an average annual basis. While we know there are just under 400 billion individual trees, the loss of the tree population in any way can be bad if it gets out of control. Contrary to popular belief, you do need some trees to die off and it is even smart to do some controlled burning to remove problematic issues with new tree growth. It can even prevent major widespread damage if a fire randomly occurs.
The issue for the Amazon Rainforest is that they are far too large to do a lot of controlled burns. While some of the tribes present are known for doing it here and there, they are nowhere near as widespread. Thus, a secret of the Amazon Rainforest that is, well, no longer a major secret is its annual tree loss. As of now, the annual average is 3.5 million. Yet they have also had years far higher, such as Summer 2018 to Summer 2019 when they lost 3,800 square miles of total forest.
The ecosystem of the Amazon Rainforest is quite impressive. The countries with the highest bird populations based on total different species are, in order: Columbia, Peru, and Brazil. Of course, each country is also home to a portion of the Amazon Rainforest. One of the secrets of the Amazon Rainforest that shouldn’t really be one is truly this impressive bird population. At one point, we only assumed they had about 1,300 different bird species.
Yet other than Indonesia, the top 7 bird species homes are ALL in the Amazon. Counting Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, the total bird species amount that calls the Amazon Rainforest home is a stunning 10,003! Of course, 633 of these bird species happen to be a threatened species of some type. Keep in mind, these are all the bird types we know of that are present here. It is nearly impossible to explore the entirety of this Rainforest, so there very well could be far more species of bird!
The Amazon Rainforest Relies On Africa’s Sahara Desert To Survive
While it might seem odd, it is actually quite true that South America’s Amazon Rainforest relies at least partly on Africa’s Sahara Desert to survive. The reason is due to the Rainforest needing a consistent and reliable supply of fresh dust & phosphorous in its topsoil. This is not exactly present and naturally growing in the Amazon, and due to the massive amount of rain, it would only be washed away.
That is why the Sahara Desert is so useful, as it actually supplies this dust for the Amazon Rainforest. For many years, we knew that phosphorous was in the topsoil but how it got there was a mystery. That was until satellites picked up an advanced dust cloud modeling technique. Researchers concluded that particles were picked up in the desert and blown over the Atlantic Ocean before reaching the Amazon. It is a secret of the Amazon Rainforest that few thought possible until it was proven.
The Amazon Rainforest is often called the most biodiverse place on the planet. It’s not hard to see why, as there is plenty of water. Plus, there is a place in the shade for plants that need it and even sun in spots for plants that need more of that. It’s really the place that gives plants every tool they need to succeed. It is not shocking to find that its conditions give it the chance to produce some amazing plants too. Yet the secret of the Amazon Rainforest is the major amount of plant species.
We’ve drawn attention to the giant planets, as they seem to get the most press and popularity among tourists. We cannot blame anyone for loving them. However, we’ve so far been able to find at least 40,000 different plant species in the Amazon Rainforest. Brazil is said to be the most biodiverse nation with more different plant species than any other nation. Of course, its connection to the Amazon Rainforest certainly helps. In total, the Amazon has 67.5% of the world’s total vascular plants!
While we’ve already referenced the biodiverse nature of the Amazon Rainforest. However, it should go without saying that when there is one large population of animal species, there is sure to be another. An ecosystem cannot survive or thrive on its own, as it needs a proper food chain to work. That is why there can be a ton of mammals and birds here, as well as a lot of plants too. Yet all at some point rely on one species type, the insects.
At one point, the Amazon Rainforest was said to have 70,000 different species of insect. However, one secret of the Amazon Rainforest that people should know is that this number does not tell the full story. We’re now aware of roughly 2.5 million species of insect found here. Heck, scientists once found 700 different species of beetle on just ONE tree!! A lot of the time, insects too similar to others are looped in together. Therefore, some scientists do that in this case, bringing the number down.
The “Lungs of the Earth” Is Not Exactly A Bad Nickname, But…
While the Amazon Rainforest is generally called the “lungs of the Earth,” it’s not entirely accurate. Yet it’s not too crazy either, as it is perhaps the greatest land area that helps us. When it comes to Carbon Dioxide absorption, the world’s oceans soak up around 25% of our annual emission total. This is taking into account all of the damage we have done to the planet due to our fossil fuel usage. However, while the Earth’s oceans might soak up a lot, the Amazon does too.
Sadly, people often get the total number of this wrong. One of the secrets of the Amazon Rainforest is that it soaks up 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually or about 5% of our annual total emission rate. However, another one of the major secrets of the Amazon Rainforest is that it does not produce 20% of the world’s oxygen. Even the most generous climatologists claim the Amazon produces around 10 to 15% of our oxygen at best.