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Thursday, March 15, 2007

13 Things I've learned about the Amazon

Thursday Thirteen brings you 13 things I've learned about the Amazon!

My work in progress takes place in the Xingu-Tapajos region of the rainforest. Since I don't happen to live in the Amazon, I've had to do a lot of research. I wanted to share 13 things that I've learned in the research I've done for my novel.

1. The Amazon is the largest river in the world. At the most narrow, it is 1.2 miles wide.

2. The Amazon Basin is nearly 140 times the size of Costa Rica.

3. The Xingu Valley is one of the largest tributaries in the Amazon. It's nearly the size of France.

4. Cattle ranching and logging are the two most important economic activities in the lower Xingu region.

5. The Tucuma Palm (26 to 66 feet tall) are covered with long black spines and the fronds are relatively small. The fruits are popular. They can also make a cream of Tucuma Butter (like cocoa butter).

6. The Piraha are an indigenous tribe who live on the Maici River. Their numbers are now down to 200 people. They have a fascinating language, which the men whistle. There are no relative clauses or grammatical recursions and the language only has 7 consonants and 3 vowels.

7. Vincristine is an anticancer drug that comes from periwinkle.

8. Ayahuesca is a hallucinogenic brew that comes from lianas (vines). It is often used as medicine or part of a ceremony. There is a very interesting ceremony I found that uses it and it's mentioned in my novel.

9. The Lear's Macaw was seen by illustrator, Edward Lear. However, it wasn't scientifically discovered until 1858 by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon. It was pretty much unseen and the mystery of the origin of the bird began. Ornithologist Helmut Sick started searching for the Lear's in 1954. It took over 20 years, but finally he found them. It took 120 years to resolve the mystery of the Lear's Macaw.

10. The Urucu-Manaus pipeline will travel 670 kilometers through the Amazon to Manaus.

11. Electronorte is proposing a huge dam on the Xingu river called the Belo Monte. It is being heavily protested.

12. Brazil is considered the most biologically diverse country in the world. It has over 30% of the world's rainforest and more than 55,000 vascular plants (17,000 are endemic to Brazil). There are more than 500 mammal species, 460 reptiles, and 500 amphibians that naturally occur in Brazil - and we don't even want to try and count all the creepy crawlies.

13. Rivers that look like tea are called blackwater rivers. Rivers that are milky brown are called whitewater rivers. These are not the same as the clear whitewaters that canoers and kayakers are familiar with.

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Anonymous Christine said...

Isn't research fun? Didn't know that Brazil is considered the most biologically diverse country in the world . . . doesn't surprise me though. It's on my top 10 places to visit before I die.

I'm all about chickens, art and life this week.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Chelle said...

Very interesting! Thanks for visiting my blog!

1:23 PM  
Blogger L^2 said...

Very interesting and informative list. Good luck with the writing.
Happy TT and thanks for visiting my list.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Thanks for this information. I learned something and I like that.
Thanks for coming by my T13.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Amy Ruttan said...

Very cool. I know researching can be tedious, I write historical so I understand; great list, I'm intrigued at what type of story you're writing that takes place in the Amazon.

Very cool!

1:58 PM  
Blogger Karen Erickson said...

Very interesting list. I'd love to go to Brazil someday...

2:03 PM  
Blogger Robinson K. said...

Great research. You must keep me updated with the progress of your novel. By the way, Your site, pops. Impressive.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Kim Rees / Kim Knox said...

Ooh interesting ceremony with an halluncinogenic brew, always fun! Great list.

Kim TT Newbie

2:17 PM  
Blogger Lazy Daisy said...

Wow, this is really interesting. I can't wait to see how you will incorportate it into your novel. Write on!

2:31 PM  
Blogger Marcia said...

Great list. Sometimes we forget that Brazil is more than just parties. I envy you (for) the patience to research those facts.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

That's fascinating, especially the bit about the macaw.

Thanks for visiting my blog, happy TT.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Anni said...

Wow! Very informative. Thanks for sharing!

2:45 PM  
Anonymous jenny said...

great info! when i hear amazon, it reminds me of the show at Discovery Channel...gosh i can't remember the title...

2:54 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

I'd like to say that research is my favorite part of being a writer. I'd like to say it, but I can't.

Researching sushi was great. Researching all male strip clubs had its moments too. Researching funeral directors was less than exciting and more than a little creepy! LOL!

3:20 PM  
Blogger Wylie Kinson said...

Very interesting! I just read it outloud to my 7 year old (he loves this kind of stuff) and we were both very intrigued with the Piraha tribe. Might be a future school project...

3:24 PM  
Blogger Darla said...

Wow! That's fascinating. I love stories set in the rainforest--not that I've read all that many of them, but it's such an alien setting for me, and it's nice to get to visit without the drawbacks (those creepy-crawlies you mentioned!) of actually going there. :)

3:26 PM  
Blogger impworks said...

The first story I ever finished writing was set in the amazon.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful post and so very informative. I thing I will share some with my science students. Thanks!

Sorry you don't do math!

3:43 PM  
Blogger bunnygirl said...

Cool! I'm reading "The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey" by Candice Millard. The River of Doubt (Rio Duvida, now Rio Roosevelt) is a tributary of the Amazon. So your list is perfectly timed! :-)

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Rav`N said...

cool. I had no idea about some of those facts. What will the Urucu-Manaus pipeline transport? Water? Gas?

6:02 PM  
Anonymous writersgroupblog said...

Very nice. As for the creepy crawlies, there are spiders as bigger than a full-grown man's hand.

Gotta love the Amazon.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Christie said...

wow, that's a great list! i've always had this fantasy about taking a trip to the Amazon, but now that I'm reading the comment by writersgroupblog, the spiders might squash that dream of mine. haha!

8:13 PM  
Blogger amy said...

what an educational list....thanks for posting this week

8:50 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I think you should go there and see it!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous she said...

Fascinating stuff - especially about the Piraha. While I'm sad to learn there are so few of them, I'm very thankful I'm not part of their tribe - I can't whistle to save my life and I can't imagine not being able to communicate otherwise!

12:01 AM  
Blogger Angela/SciFiChick said...


8:18 AM  
Blogger Uisce said...

a mile wide, that's unbelievable! OK, I believe you, but still... that's unbelievable!! :)

8:54 AM  
Blogger Rene said...

Wow, that is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

This is awesome. How much fun did you have doing this research?

Thanks for all the info!

2:57 PM  
Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried said...


All these cool facts, and not one way to save the joint.

Not that you're doing anything wrong, babe (I'm cold-addled; leave me alone!) -- society is. I can't believe this neat place is going to die out, possibly in our lifetimes.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

I always wanted to go see the Amazon, before my fear of spiders intruded!

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Angela Giles Klocke said...

And now *I* know more!

2:13 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

That's very interesting stuff!
Thanks for visiting my handbag TT.

2:14 PM  

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