Brazil’s Cerrado (translated to mean “inaccessible”) is thought to be the most biodiverse savannah in the world. Giant anteaters, armadillos, pampas deer, cougars, macaws and howler monkeys are just a few of the animals that make their homes here.
The maned wolf is one of the more unique species living in the region. This animal has a striking appearance, often compared to a fox on stilts with a bushy mane. As these solitary animals stalk their prey in this hot and relatively humid area, stepping on ancient soil and brushing past tall grasses, termites and leaf cutter ants diligently toil away around them.
Cerrado’s woodlands, now making up 21% of Brazil, are shrinking as the area is being converted to farmland. In an attempt to study the area in detail, scientist from Conservation International (CI) and various Brazilian Universities found 14 undocumented species in the Serra Geral do Tocantins Ecological Station and 440 species of vertebrates as a whole.
The most notable animals discovered last month, during this 29 day expedition, included a legless lizard, dwarf woodpecker and rough skinned horned toad. The snake-like lizard uses its pointed snout to make its way through the sandy soil of the Serra Geral. Legs would make this a less efficient process.
Excellent photos of these animals can be found on the National Geographic website.
It is always exciting to discover new species, especially ones that have evolved unique adaptations to adjust to their environment. It is also a reminder of how important it is to conserve sufficient portions of these areas before we lose more animals we never even knew existed.