South America ... Plants and animals of this region have been attracting increased attention for centuries. It is here that a huge number of unique animals live, and the flora is represented by truly unusual plants. It is unlikely that in the modern world you can meet a person who would not agree to visit this continent at least once in his life.
General geographical description
In fact, a huge continent called South America is huge. Plants and animals here are also diverse, but all of them, according to experts, are largely due to the geographical location and the features of the formation of the earth's surface.
The continent is washed on both sides by the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The main part of its territory is located in the southern hemisphere of the planet. The connection of the mainland with North America occurred during the Pliocene during the formation of the Isthmus of Panama.
The Andes are a seismically active mountain system, stretching along the western border of the continent. The largest Amazon river flows east of the ridge , and plants of the equatorial forests of South America cover almost the entire area.
Among other continents, this one takes 4th place in terms of area and 5th place in terms of population. There are two versions of the appearance of people in this territory. Perhaps the settlement occurred through the Bering Isthmus, or the first people came from the South Pacific.
Unusual local climate
South America is the wettest continent of the planet with six climatic zones. In the north there is a subequatorial belt, and in the south there are subequatorial, tropical, subtropical and temperate zones. On the northwest coast and lowlands of the Amazon, high humidity and equatorial climate.
From the equatorial belt to the north and south, there is a subequatorial zone, where the air masses of the equatorial type alternate in summer with a lot of rainfall and dry tropical air in winter. The trade winds affect the weather in the tropical zone in the east. It is mostly humid and hot. In the center, rainfall is less, but the dry winter period lasts longer.
On the Pacific coast and the western slopes (between 5 ° and 30 ° S) there is a zone of dry tropical climate with low temperature. The cold waters of the Peruvian current impede the formation of precipitation and form mists. Here is the most arid desert in the world - Atacama. In the south of the Brazilian Highlands, located in the subtropical zone, humid subtropical climate, closer to the center of the mainland, it is already becoming drier.
On the Pacific coast, a subtropical climate of the Mediterranean type prevails with dry sultry summers and mild, humid winters. The south of the continent is also characterized by a temperate climate, characterized by contrast. On the west coast, it is of a moderate marine type with rainy cool summers and warm winters. In the east, the climate is temperate continental: summers are warm and dry, and winters, on the contrary, are cool. The weather conditions of the Andes relate to the climate of altitudinal zoning.
Conditionality of local flora
If you ask the experts what plants in South America are considered the most common, you can get something like this: “The most different! And most of them are actually not found anywhere else in the world. "
Flora development began in the Mesozoic era and, starting from the Tertiary period, was completely isolated from other lands. Due to this, South American plants have such a variety and are famous for their endemism.
Many modern cultural representatives of the flora originate in South America, one of them is the well-known potato. But the cocoa tree, rubber hevea, and the quinine tree are now grown on other continents.
On the continent, experts identify the Neotropic and Antarctic floristic areas. The first is similar to the flora of Africa, and the second to the flora of Antarctica, New Zealand and Australia. Despite this, there are differences in the types of vegetation and species composition. The savannah is typical for Africa, and in South America moist tropical forests (selvas) predominate. Such forests cover areas with an equatorial climate and the slopes of the Brazilian and Guiana uplands from the Atlantic.
Under the influence of climate, forests pass into the savannah. In Brazil, savannahs (campos) are composed mainly of cereal vegetation. In Venezuela and Guiana, in the savannah (llanos), in addition to cereals, palm trees grow. In the Brazilian Highlands, in addition to the flora of the typical savannah, there are species resistant to drought. The north-east of the highlands is occupied by katinga, which is a rare forest of drought-resistant trees. The humid part of the southeast is covered with subtropical araucaria forests and undergrowth, including Paraguayan tea. Inside the Andean uplands are lands with mountain tropical desert greenery. Subtropical vegetation occupies small areas of the mainland.
The cover of the eastern La Plata Plain mainly consists of grasses and herbs (feather grass, bearded, fescue) and belongs to the second type of flora of South America. This is a subtropical steppe, or pampa. Closer to the Brazilian Highlands, steppe plants are combined with shrubbery. Thickets of evergreen shrubs are characteristic of the Pacific coast.
In Patagonia, the vegetation of arid steppes and semi-deserts of temperate latitudes (bluegrass, cactus, mimosa, and others) predominates. The extreme southwest of the continent, covered with multi-tiered evergreen forests of coniferous and deciduous species, differs in its diversity.
If some continent is able to surprise an experienced traveler, it is South America. The plants and animals here are actually outlandish. Just the quinine tree is worth it.
By the way, it became famous thanks to the healing properties of its bark, which the natives used to treat malaria. The tree is named after the wife of the Viceroy of Peru, who was cured of fever by the quin bark in 1638.
The height of the tree reaches 15 meters, the evergreen leaves are brilliant, and at the ends of the branches are collected inflorescences of pink or white flowers. The entire crown has a reddish tint. Healing is only the bark of a tree. Now the so-called cichon grows in many parts of the world.
The birthplace of the cocoa tree is South America. Its seeds are used to make chocolate, hence the name.
For the sake of these seeds, the species is now cultivated all over the world. The tree reaches a height of 8 meters, and also has large dark green leaves and small pinkish-white flowers collected in inflorescences.
It blooms and bears fruit almost all year round. Ripening of the fetus occurs from 4 to 9 months. Tree lifespan is 25-50 years.
A unique tree that is a source of natural rubber, which is found in milky sap (latex). Latex is found in all parts of a rubber plant.
This is an evergreen tree up to 30 meters high with a straight trunk up to 50 cm thick and light bark. The leaves are leathery, ternate, pointed, oval in shape and collected in bunches at the ends of the branches.
Foliage change occurs annually. The species belongs to monoecious plants with unisexual small flowers of white-yellow color, collected in simple inflorescences. The fruit with dense ovoid seeds is a tricuspid box.
South American animals
Many rare and interesting species of flora live on the mainland. These include sloths, armadillos, vicunas, alpacas and others. American ostriches and nandus took refuge in the pumps, while seals and penguins live in the cold south.
Endangered giant river turtles are found in the Galapogos Pacific Islands. Many animals cannot be found on other continents. For example, Titikak whistler, wingless chomga and poo deer.
All animals living in South America are adapted to harsh environmental conditions.
The animal loves honey, for which he received the name "kinkaju", which translates as "honey bear." But kinkajou is not at all like bears and belongs to the raccoon family.
The length of the animal is from 43 to 56 cm, slightly convex large eyes, a round head and ears. The coat is dense and short, brown on the back, and slightly lighter on the stomach. Many individuals have a dark streak on their backs.
In addition to honey, it feeds on plants, fruits, insects and small animals, does not disdain eggs and chicks. These are nocturnal single animals that meet with relatives only for breeding.
What animals in South America still attract attention? Spectacled bear, of course! He does not like open areas and lives in mountain forests. The animal weighs up to 140 kg, body length - up to 1.8 m, height at the withers - up to 80 cm.
There are white or reddish spots around the eyes and nose. They are sometimes on the chest. The fur is thick black or with a brownish tint. The eyes are round, small in size. Paws are long with large claws for digging the ground. Other bears have 14 pairs of ribs, and the spectacle has only 13. It feeds mainly on plant foods or small insects and animals.
This nocturnal animal builds its shelter on trees and does not hibernate in winter. The organs of the beast are used in medicine, which is why their population is rapidly decreasing. The animal is listed in the Red Book.
This small cat family predator resembles a weasel or a cat. Jaguarundi has a long body (about 60 cm) with short legs, a small round head with triangular ears. Height at the withers reaches 30 cm, weight - up to 9 kg.
Wool of uniform coloring of gray, red or reddish-brown colors, not representing commercial value. It is found in forests, savannahs or wetlands.
It feeds on insects, small animals and fruits. Jaguarundi lives and hunts alone, meets with other individuals only for reproduction.
Here it is, unusual, stunning, alluring and bewitching South America, whose plants and animals are especially popular not only among scientists who connect their lives with the study of the continent, but also among curious tourists who are eager to discover something new.