Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Brazil's Amazon River Comes Alive!

Words we vaguely understood came to life on March 6th when Dr. Tomas Hrbek, a researcher from Universidade Federal do Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil, came to explain life and the fauna in his world along the Amazon River.

Dr. Tomas Hrbek tells us about life in the Amazon River.
Dr. Hrbek introduced us to Brazil's Amazon River and its tributaries through a crude line-drawing on the white board. The Amazon River is the second longest river in the world. (The Nile River is longer.) This river basin spreads across nine countries with two-thirds of it in northern Brazil.

Manaus is the largest population area in this river region. The area is covered in jungles and tropical rain forest. Dr. Hrbek said the weather remains about the same all year long. For this reason, Dr. Hrbek and his family chose to build their kitchen outside for year-round use, even during the rainy season.

The most fascinating part of his presentation was about his forte – unique freshwater fish and other amphibians living in the amazing Amazon. Dr. Hrbek shared his knowledge as an evolutionary biologist to explain the relationship among animals across continents. We were fascinated, not just by the types of fish and amphibians that seem so exotic to us, but the stories behind the fish and their evolution or documented connection to other fish across the continents. 

Thank you, Dr. Hrbek, for making life in the Amazon River come alive!

PS Based on DNA, Dr. Hrbek and his research team discovered a new species of river dolphin which may have resulted from the way these dolphins were isolated historically from other dolphins. Read more about this discovery at BBC News or National Geographic.

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