Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Costa Rican Biodiversity

Costa Rica is well known as being home to a baffling amount of varied animals, plants, and ...ew...bugs! Part of the reason that this small country has such diversity is due to its location between North and South America, which enabled plants and animals from North and South America as well as some of the nearby Caribbean islands to find a home in this small nation.  Costa Rica's forward thinking ecological policies have also helped sustain such biodiversity in the region.


Agoutis

These guinea-pig-like animals are extremely rare and are located in the Nicoya Peninsula. I think it's so cute! No gross tail like most rodents (sorry all you mice and rat lovers - hope I didn't insult you too much!)  They are known to emit a high-pitched bark when scared........so cute!

Here's a little guy in the wild:



Blue Morpho

This vivid species of butterfly can have up to a 20 centimeter wing span! Unfortunately, their beauty draws unwanted attention at times - in the past they were caught, killed and turned into exotic jewelry.  The wings of male Blue Morphos have reflective ridges that have a metallic appearance.


Crab Spider

These bright colored spiders like to hang out in trees and shrubs, and have a relatively short lifespan. I found this image on a website with tons of pictures of the bugs a guy discovered while living in Costa Rica.  He said you could find a species that was new to you every day if you tried, which sounds terrifying to me. Maybe I want to rethink going on a Costa Rican vacation....


Kinkajous

What a great name! These shy guys avoid sunlight as much as possible, hanging out on tree branches until the sun goes down.  Their tails are longer than their bodies and help them climb trees to look for food. They are somewhat elusive, but can be heard by the distinctive "weeeee" sound they make.  
Here's a video if you'd like to see more about Kinkajous:



Rosy Lipped Bat Fish

These cousins to a similar species on the Galapagos Island can only be found in the ocean depths near Costa Rica's Cocos island.  They are ruthless carnivores that hunt for smaller fish.  Those aren't legs that you are looking at - they are actually fins that resemble feet as they are used to help these guys move along the ocean floor and to attack their prey.

Harpy Eagle

There are over 850 species of birds in Costa Rica, and birding has become a major attraction. If you visit, you might catch a glimpse of some of the more than 50 species of hummingbirds, 15 different kinds of parrots, 6 types of toucans and much more. There is even the rare harpy eagle, which can snatch a monkey or a sloth from branches in treetops!

1 comment:

  1. Love that there are so many birds in Costa Rica...but my favorite animal, of these you describe, would be the kinajous. He has attributes I wish I had, like feet with the ability to turn 180 degrees. And wouldn't it be nice if my'gluttony' could help the biodiversity? Mine doesn't but his does!

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