Seeing the Forest for More Than the Trees

The Amazon is Earth’s largest rainforest, encompassing about 2.1 million square miles in South America. Many issues are facing this unique region.

Sep 10 , 2015

The Amazon is Earth’s largest rainforest, encompassing about 2.1 million square miles in South America. While the majority of the forest is in Brazil, the Amazon region finds its borders extending into nine different nations, and it represents more than half of the world’s rainforests. The sheer amount of vegetation is so vast that it is believed to produce more than 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen.

Bottom line: it’s big.

With its continent-engulfing size, the Amazon is the natural habitat to about 40,000 different plant species, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 types of fish, 430 mammals and 2.5 million different insects. Of the 430 mammals, one is of particular interest: humans. The rainforest is home to an estimated 400-500 indigenous Amerindian tribes, many of which having never been in contact with the outside world.

This fall we will take a broad look at several aspects and issues facing this unique region in our course “Life in the Amazon: The Collision of Tradition and Modernity.” The course, co-sponsored by Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), which currently houses the “Out of the Amazon” exhibit, will draw upon knowledge from five different experts.

Across six different sessions, participants will learn about the broad diversity of people, plants, insects and animals that inhabit the Amazon, the prehistoric and modern histories of the region, and the impact humans have had on the Earth’s largest rainforest. The course will culminate with an instructor-guided tour of HMNS’ “Out of the Amazon” exhibit. Visit glasscock.rice.edu/lifeintheamazon to learn more about the course and to register.

About the Author

Bret NewcombBret Newcomb, Marketing Specialist

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