Unique Jungle Wildlife: Nature in Focus
We’re exploring some of the more unusual jungle wildlife in this week’s Nature in Focus.
The amazing thing about jungle wildlife is the sheer diversity. We’re probably as guilty as most of focusing on the more obvious characters so we thought we’d introduce some of the more unusual jungle residents you might encounter on your next eco holiday. Did you know, for example, that some Poison Dart Frogs have enough poison to kill up to 100 adult humans? Did you know that Morpho Butterflies have inspired the development of next-generation anticounterfeit technology? Did you know that the Keel-Billed Toucan can reach speeds of up to 57km/h while flying through rainforest canopies? If you answered no to any of these questions, then stick around and read on, as we introduce you to some of the more unique jungle wildlife in this week’s Nature In Focus.
Poison Dart Frogs
Stimulatingly, indigenous tribes of South America and Central America used the poison from these frogs to tip their blowgun darts for centuries, as the common name of these frogs suggests. Poison Dart Frogs represent a family of frogs belonging to the family name Dendrobatidae and are highly colorful. For all the biology majors’ and naturalists out there, the correlation between bright coloration of a species and its toxicity is known as aposematism – which is an antipredator evolutionary adaptation.
Poison Dart Frogs are one of the more commonly used examples to showcase this evolutionary trait, as some scientists contend that these are the most poisonous creatures on Earth. Having a lifespan of up to 15 years and growing to an average size of just 3.8cm, these little frogs pack quite a deadly dose for any unsuspecting predator willing to ignore the warning signs.
Morpho Butterflies consist of a family of butterflies known as Morphindae, which includes up to 30 different species. Found in forests and tropical zones ranging from Mexico to Brazil, these devastatingly beautiful butterflies are some of the most spectacular jungle wildlife to photograph. They can grow up to 20cm in size (wingspan). Their shimmery and vivid coloration is created by tiny microscopic scales on their wings which reflect sunlight, producing delightful metallic blues and greens.
Interestingly, the underside of their wings are brown and patchy looking, helping them blend in to the surrounding environment from below. Scientists recently discovered that the metallic coloration of their wings are created by tiny nanoscales – which as a result – has inspired new technologies for purposes of counterfeit measures with applications in banknotes, credit cards, and passports.
The Keel-Billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) has a yellow colored throat – sometimes a mixing of neon-green, a banana-shaped beak, and black feathered body. Ranging from Southern Mexico to Columbia, this human friendly bird lives in small groups of up to 20 and isn’t a great flyer.
Surprisingly, it hops from branch to branch when getting around, but when required, it can swoop out of the rainforest canopy and achieve speeds of up to 57km/h. An omnivorous feaster, it will gulp down fruits, lizards, and insects without much concern. Though not currently threatened, the pet trade industry has had a negative impact on this colorful bird.
Make sure to keep an eye out for these unique jungle dwellers the next time you are hiking through the Central American rainforests on one of our sustainable eco tours!