In fact, the entire global water cycle depends on this strangely beautiful place… which almost seems like another planet!
Many people ask, “What are some interesting facts about the Amazon Rainforest?”
If you’ve ever wondered about what makes the world’s rainforests so amazing, you’re not alone.
The following 13 fun facts about the Amazon rainforest are amazing, but they’re only a drop in the bucket compared to the vast and incredible benefits we all get from this distinctive part of the planet.
The Definition and Description of a Rainforest Will Surprise You
Tropical rainforests thrive near the equator, which may not surprise you. The solar radiation at the equator causes massive amounts of evaporation, which cools and falls back to earth as rain.
However, heat and rainfall amounts are the main factors that make rainforests different than other forests.
Fact 1. The average rainforest temperature is above 68° F.
In the tropical rainforests of the planet, it rains more than 90 days a year and most see anywhere from 8 to 14 feet of rainfall annually, and the Amazon rainforest climate is no different.
Stunning Details for Understanding the Rainforest Background
- Rainforests are home to half of the planet’s animal and plant species
- Two-thirds of all flowering plants are found in the rainforest
- A single hectare of rainforest could contain 42,000 species of insects, up to 807 trees from hundreds of different species, and 1,500 plant species
Considering their uncontested biodiversity and the vast ecological services they provide, it’s easy to see why rainforests have been called the “jewels of the earth.”
Fact 2. What is the Amazon Rainforest?… It’s the largest on Earth!
To understand how truly amazing the rainforest is, there’s no better place to look than the largest rainforest on earth: The Amazon.
The size of the Amazon Rainforest location is massive… a sprawling swath of tropical forest spanning the Amazon River Basin in South America.
Fact 3. The Amazon forest is located predominantly in Brazil but encompasses massive parts of Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, and Venezuela.
Don’t let the size of the largest rainforest in the world fool you into thinking that there’s plenty to spare. Threatened areas have a huge impact on the global climate, and even one acre lost can have a negative impact.
What Is the Forest Floor?
Like all forests, rainforests are typically segmented by layers, each containing several plants and animal species particularly suited to live there.
There are four layers:
- Emergent: The portion that sees the full sun, with the tallest trees.
- Canopy: This layer is filled with leaves and branches (and where you would see Tarzan swinging.
- Understory: The understory is comprised of tree trunks and plants with very large leaves able to catch the dappled light filtering down through the upper layers.
- Floor: This part is very dark with almost no plant life.
Those with a rainforest mind, however, know that the forest floor contains more biodiversity than all the layers above it combined!
Fact 4. How big is the Amazon Rainforest?… It’s Huge!!
That’s roughly the size of the Continental United States, but it contains the greatest variety of plant and animal species on earth.
Fact 5. Rainforests used to cover much more of the earth’s surface than they do today.
Sadly, the amount of surface area covered by rainforests has been steadily decreasing. Deforestation has played the primary role in erasing these treasures.
How Much of the World Is Covered by Rainforest?
Rainforests used to cover 14 percent of the earth’s surface. In just a few decades, they have been slashed, burned, and degraded to the point where they now only cover a mere six percent of the planet, less than half of their original range.
Fact 6. The Amazon Rainforest is home to one-fifth of the world’s plant species.
Rainforests are home to some of the world’s most beautifully unique trees… and there are plenty!
What Are Some Types of Trees You Can See in the Amazon?
Amazon rainforest plants are numerous and diverse. Some 16,000 tree species grow in the Amazon, making it a vast mosaic of 390 billion individual trees.3
A few of the most common trees gracing the canopy include:
- The Rubber Tree
This is one of the most common trees in the Amazon. Its milky sap is used to make rubber products.
- Brazil Nut
This massive 160-ft tree dominates the canopy. Its massive, 5-pound fruits contain up to two dozen nuts, providing a rich source of protein to people and one rodent species with teeth sharp enough to penetrate the fruit’s tough shell.
- Tacuma Palm
This palm is protected by ominous thorns ringing its trunk. Indigenous peoples make flowers from their fruit, which has been shown to contain large amounts of antioxidants.5
Fact 7. Experts estimate there are at least 2.5 million separate insect species in the Amazon!
This bewildering amount of creepy crawlies is difficult to imagine, but as numerous as the Amazon’s insect species are, each species has an important role to play in balancing the delicate ecosystem.
A few types of Insects that live in the rainforest Include:
- The Rhino Beetle
This beetle is famous for its imposing forward-facing horn. The rhino beetle possesses strength far disproportionate to its size.6 It can carry 850 times its weight, the equivalent of one human carrying nine adult elephants.
- Leaf Cutter Ant
These industrious ants teem in the countless trillions. They actually don’t eat the leaves they harvest, but bury them deep underground to grow fungus which the ants meticulously farm to feed their colonies.7
- Riodinidae Butterflies
Over 1,300 Riodinidae butterfly species live in the Amazon and Andes regions.7 They range from the translucent Amazon Angel to the vivid rainbow-splashed Harmonia Mantle.
Fact 8. Over 40,000 plant species have been identified in the Amazon Rainforest
Interestingly, of those 40,000 different species of plants, approximately 75 percent aren’t found anywhere else in the world!
Plants in the Amazon Rainforest Are Amazing
The Amazon’s plant community includes such iconic specimens as:
- Palm varieties
- Epiphytes (air plants)
Types of Animals That Live in the Tropical Rainforest
Although we know about many animals in the rainforest, new species of animals are discovered in the rainforest regularly.
Check Out The Following Amazon Rainforest Animal Facts
Fact 9. The Amazon is home to a fifth of earth’s bird species and a tenth of all mammal life.
Tons of cool animals call the rainforest their home… one-fifth of the world’s bird species call this unique location their home and one-tenth of all mammal life!2
Animals of the Amazon include:8
- 3,000 fish species
- More than 430 mammal species
- 428 amphibian species (including the poison dart frog)
- 378 reptile species1,300 bird species
Some of these species aren’t found anywhere else in the world, heightening the urgency to protect their fragile habitats before they are lost forever.
Facts About Sloths in the Amazon Rainforest
The three-toed sloth includes four species, two of which are endemic to the Amazon. The most common, the brown-throated sloth, has a range spanning across the entire Amazon forest and beyond.9
Fact 10: The sloth’s specialized, four-chambered stomach allows them to live on a diet entirely composed of leaves, twigs, and buds.
They spend nearly their entire lives primarily hanging from branches.
Facts About Macaws in the Amazon
The vibrant macaw is the largest member of the parrot family. They are social birds, usually traveling in parental pairs with a handful of young. But in groups, they can congregate in staggering thousands. Ripe fruits and seeds are no challenge for their robust beaks, which can crack the hardest of nuts.
These intelligent birds can live up to 80 years in captivity. Their intelligence, beauty, and longevity make them desirable pets. The illicit pet trade of macaws stands as one of the gravest dangers to the future of this beautiful bird.11
But domestication isn’t the only threat to this incredible bird.
Fact 11. The decline of primary forestland has led some macaw species to travel farther and farther in search of ideal habitats, and some never return.
Working to reforest devastated areas can help keep these beautiful creatures reestablished in their numbers in their native habitat.
What Sort of Congo Rainforest Animals Are Endangered?
The Amazon isn’t the only rainforest with endangered species like the macaw. The Congo Rainforest is home to some of the largest and most well-known endangered species in the world, including forest elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas.
Are Amazon River Animals Deadly?
The fear of rainforest animals undoubtedly plays a part in destroying these areas, and Amazon River species aren’t exempt.
Five particular river-dwelling species strike a chord of fear in many who see them:
- The Green Anaconda
Measuring up to 30 feet and weighing up to 550 pounds, the anaconda is the world’s most massive snake. Though the anaconda preys on animals larger and stronger than humans, there are no confirmed cases of the massive snake eating a human being.14
- The Candiru Fish
This small, 3-5cm fish is the stuff of nightmares. According to legend, it is attracted to the smell of urine, following the trail into the urethra and burrowing itself into the genitals, where it commences to eat from the inside out and lay eggs. However, this legend has been regarded myth, with no verified accounts of the fish’s appetite for human genitals.
- The Black Caiman
This massive reptile can span 15 feet from tail to chin. It is a ferocious predator, capable of catching and drowning large mammals. However, black caimans are extremely unlikely to attack a human unprovoked.
- Bull sharks
These large, saltwater sharks often travel far into freshwater, including the Amazon River. They are fearless explorers and hunters, and are perhaps the only aquatic animal worth fearing in the Amazon River: There are 69 confirmed unprovoked attacks on humans by bull sharks, and likely more.15
These legendary fish are perhaps the most infamous animals in the Amazon River. The legend surrounding them isn’t completely unfounded: A recent study in Brazil found a significant number of people were bitten by piranhas within the study timeline.16
But the study found piranha aggression was correlated with shallow water and threatened breeding grounds, which suggests these fish only become violent in stressed, overcrowded areas.
There are no documented piranha fatalities, and confirmed attacks are relatively sparse and inconsequential.
Occasionally, human bodies are washed ashore ravaged by piranhas, but the piranha bites were likely inflicted after death, not the cause of it.
More Fun Facts About Brazil and Its Rainforest
Human settlement in Brazil is thought to have begun 32,000 years ago
There are more than 3,000 edible fruits that grow in the Amazon
In 2007, Martin Strel swam the entire length of the entire Amazon River (with only a few piranha bites, no bull shark attacks, and no unsolicited Candiru probing).
The Amazon rainforest canopy is so thick that the entire forest floor is covered in perpetual shade. When rain falls, it takes up to ten minutes to hit the ground.
More Fun Facts About Venezuela and Its Rainforest
Venezuela is one of the top ten most biodiverse countries on the planet and its rainforest areas contain:
- Over 21,000 plant species
- 353 mammals
- 323 reptile species
- 1,400 birds
- 288 amphibians
Why Rainforests Are Important to Western Medicine and the Planet: An Explanation
Given the current global pandemic, it seems more crucial than ever that rainforests must be protected to ensure that medical discoveries aren’t lost forever. But, there’s more.
Rainforests are often called “the world’s largest pharmacy.”1 Their breathtaking biodiversity produces over a quarter of the world’s natural medicines. And more are being discovered every day: It is estimated that millions of species of plants and animals remain to be discovered, each with its own role to play in the rainforest and the greater global ecosystem.
Protecting Endangered Species
Human-caused destruction of the rainforest is the largest factor playing into threatened species that live there.
Fact 12: Every day, 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned, including the homes of countless plant and animal species that rely on it for their survival.
Preserving the rainforest is key to protecting the endangered species that live there, such as:17
- Poison dart frog
- Golden lion tamarin monkey
- Bengal tiger
- Harpy eagle
- Three-toed sloth
Rainforests Are Crucial for Cleaning Earth’s Air
Though only covering about six percent of the planet’s surface, rainforests punch way above their weight class in providing ecological services. That is why an Amazon rainforest fire is so devastating to the planet.
Fact 13: Rainforests produce 40% of the Earth’s oxygen and sequester massive amounts of carbon dioxide.
Trees are an essential tool in mitigating and even reversing the effects of climate change.20 Trees are considered the best terrestrial carbon sinks, and understanding their role in capturing and storing carbon is a critical part of the earth’s carbon mitigation portfolio.
Mitigating Climate Change the Rainforest Way
Tropical rainforests absorb and store more carbon than any other biome on the planet, nearly 247 gigatons per year in all the tropical forests combined, which is about 90 years of global fossil fuel emissions at current levels absorbed, every year.18 You can determine how much carbon you generate each year by using an ecological footprint calculator.
But this massive store of carbon is being released by burning, slashing, and degrading the rainforests, and now the planet’s tropical forests may soon be emitting more carbon than they absorb.19
Bonus Fact: Researchers estimate that tropical deforestation and degradation account for 10 to 20 percent of all anthropogenic carbon emissions, and this number is rising as more and more forests are cut down, burned, and permanently converted into mono-crops and grassland.
Rainforests are an essential part of the global ecosystem. Without them, the earth will lose unfathomable biological richness, invaluable oxygen production, and an essential tool in fighting climate change, which is why tree planting offset programs can help rebuild them.
Protecting the Future of Rainforests
If lost, a world without rainforests marks the end of the world as it is now known. These reasons combined should make rainforest survival a priority for world governments, corporations, organizations, and citizens.
To be part of the solution in helping restore the Amazon rainforest, check out the best carbon offset providers.
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3Butler, R. A. (2022, February 25). 10 Facts about the Amazon Rainforest in 2022. The Rainforest. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from <https://rainforests.mongabay.com/amazon/amazon-rainforest-facts.html>
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6The National Wildlife Federation. (2023). Rhinoceros Beetles. National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from <https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Rhinoceros-Beetles>
7PBS Learning Media. (2023). Coevolution: Leafcutter Ants of the Amazon. PBS Learning Media. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from <https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/tdc02.sci.life.evo.leaf/ancient-farmers-of-the-amazon/>
8Roggo, M. (2023). Amazon fish. WWF. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from <https://wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/amazon/about_the_amazon/wildlife_amazon/fish/?>
9Amazon Aid. (2023). Three-Toed Sloth. Amazon Aid Foundation. Retrieved April 3, 2023, fro <https://amazonaid.org/species/three-toed-sloth/>
10Rattenborg et. al., N. C. (2008, August 23). Sleeping outside the box: electroencephalographic measures of sleep in sloths inhabiting a rainforest. PubMed. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18482903/>
11Joyner, L., & Portillo-Reyes, H. O. (2018, June). Seven Years of Parrot Conservation in La Moskitia, Honduras. PubMed. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29905097/>
12Yale University. (2023). Bushmeat Hunting. Global Forest Atlas. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from <https://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/congo/forests-and-logging/bushmeat-hunting>
13Cerling et. al., T. E. (2016, November 22). Radiocarbon dating of seized ivory confirms rapid decline in African elephant populations and provides insight into illegal trade. PubMed. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27821744/>
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21Photo by Waren Brasse. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/IzCUWUi_j8I>
22Photo by Lingchor. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/lDy1K7RkLeA>
23Photo by Marcus Dall Col. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/qz5rzH7slWY>
24Photo by Christina Victoria Craft. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/gv851Ya4l_Y>
25Photo by Guryan. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/red-bellied-piranha-in-close-up-shot-13561545/>