The Amazon may have the Andes to thank for biodiversity


Snake The extraordinary biodiversity seen in the Amazon rainforest — one of the most species-rich ecosystems on Earth — may have evolved mainly due to the rise of the Andes, research suggests. The Amazon, the world's largest river basin, is home to the largest rainforest on Earth, covering about 2.58 million square miles (6.7 million square kilometers) in nine countries. This area, known as Amazonia, holds a mind-boggling array of life, harboring one in 10 known species in the world and one in five of all birds. “Many previously unseen species are discovered and documented every year,” said John Lundberg, curator of ichthyology at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

The origin of the amazing level of diversity seen in Amazonia has been debated for decades. It was long held that isolated patches of forest served as safe havens during cycles of aridity during the Pleistocene epoch (beginning about 2.5 million years ago and ending 12,000 years ago), refuges that served as incubators for diversity over the past 2.5 million years. However, in the 1990s, support for this idea crumbled after evidence for it was revealed to be a mistake based on how species were analyzed.

More here. (Disclaimer: I am posting this story more for the pictures of the amazing bio-diversity you can see through the various links for those of us who are evo-bio lovers)