We truly hope that you will be both enthralled and amazed by these choices for 5 Amazing Andean Species that we present to you herein. Some may be known to you, though you might not have realized their ranges included this remarkable region of the world.
Others, however, might be new to at least some of you. Obviously, these represent only a tiny handful of the fabulous species, both flora and fauna, found in this part of the world. We further encourage you, after enjoying this article, to serach out others we have for you.
Queen of the Andes
Queen of the Andes Facts
- Leading off this article about 5 Amazing Andean Species is the regal plant with the wholly appropriate name, the towering Queen of the Andes.
- This astonishing plant represents a most impressive species of Bromeliad that most frequently goes by the informative name for clearly excellent reasons. That’s not the only term used for the amazing plant, though. In fact, it actually goes by several names.
- That’s partly due to the fact that, in the language of the local Indigenous Peoples, known as the Quechua, the marvel’s known by the term of the Titanka. In Spanish, meanwhile, it’s usually referred to by those who know of it as puya de Raimondii.
- Researchers, however, generally use a far more formal, scientific name for the amazing plant. That’s the moderately hard to pronounce term of Puya raimondii. By either term, though, the plant truly stands out from its many relatives around the world.
- The German botanist, Hermann August Theodor Harms holds credit for the name it currently bears. He changed it to its current name in 1928, because another plant already held a very similar name. The original naming, though, happened much earlier.
- In fact, the French scientist Alcide d’Orbigny actually made the first official recognition of it as a separate and distinct species. This noteworthy accomplishment, furthermore, occurred in 1830. The name raimondii honors a 19th-century Italian scientist.
- The IUCN also currently lists the Queen of the Andes as Endangered on its Red List. It earns this status due to several reasons. Its known range forms one factor, as well as habitat loss. Climate change, however, perhaps represents the greatest threat it faces.
Queen of the Andes Physical Description
To be certain, the remarkable Queen of the Andes impresses those who encounter it for a variety of reasons. Chief among those, however, likely comes its sheer size. That’s due to the fact that this fascinating species ranks as the largest of all known bromeliads on earth.
More precisely, exceptional specimens sometimes achieve heights measuring as much as 50 ft (15 m)! Most, though, typicaly reach sizes slightly smaller than this. That overall height, though, is acutally broken down into several separate sections of the beautiful plant.
The trunk of the plant itself typically develops strongly vertically. This feature also attains heights of up to 16 ft (5 m). This part of the plant further generaly manifest a darker brown shade. The bark, additionally, typically manifests a very rough, almost scaly texture.
This portion of the plant also generally possesses a dense covering of unique foliage. Roughly two hundred highly elongated leaves develop, each averaging about 4 ft (1.25 m) in length. Developing spiny in nature, these also average about 3 in (8 cm) in width.
Atop this portion, however, the stunning Queen of the Andes develops its impressive infloresecence. This collection of clusters of flowers itself also develops vertically, ranging from 13 -26 ft (4 – 8 m) in height. The small blooms show white, with a small orange center.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Tracheophyta
- Class: Monocots
- Order: Poales
- Family: Bromeliaceae
- Genus: Puya
- Species: P. raimondii
Queen of the Andes Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The very name of the visually impressive Queen of the Andes provides a clear indicator of where in the world this marvel of Nature evolved. That’s because, as indicated, the Angiosperm developed in the Andes Mountains, located in South America.
Within that magnificent mountain range, though, it actually inhabits a comparatively moderate extent of the territory. Groupings of this wonder of evolution appear in only two countries on the continent. It resides within the boundaries of Peru and Bolivia.
Yet the restrictive nature of its habitat range doesn’t simply stop there. That’s due to the fact that it evolved as endemic to a precise range of environmental conditions. It appears at altitudes ranging from 9,800 – 15,700 ft (3,000 – 4,800 m) above sea level.
Its own evolved nature further complicates the chances of the species spreading to other regions. That’s because it eschews more fertile regions. The unique plant actually favors harsh areas consisting mainly of rocky slopes and areas of small, dense shrubs.
Another factor limiting its chances of survival remains the fact the each plant blooms only once in its entire life. Indivual lifespans vary, but averge approximately 80 years. Specimens further typically do not bloom until very near the end of their lives.
The primary mode of pollination for the aptly-named Queen of the Andes is actually birds. These frequently become temporarily ensnared by its spiny fronds, allowing for the transference of pollen. This snaring once led some to believe it was a carnivorous plant.
Hyacinth Macaw Facts
- Next up in this compendium of 5 Amazing Andean Species comes the brilliantly plumed bird known to many as the Hyacinth Macaw.
- The descriptive term for this bird perfectly serves as one of the common names for a breathtaking variety of parrot. The beautifully colored avian also has another, less often used common name. That’s the similar term of the hyacinthine macaw.
- Its official scientific name, however, remains that of the extremely hard to pronounce term of Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus. By either of these names, though, it remains a most extraordinary, and visually distinctive, member of its particular genus.
- The first official recognition of the amazing animal as a separate and distinct species took place in 1790. This occurred at the hands of the respected English ornithologist, John Latham. At that time, however, he originally assigned it a different name.
- Quite sadly, its population numbers have plummeted dramatically in recent decades. Part of this occurred due to its popularity in the pet trade. Due to its greatly reduced numbers, the IUCN now lists it as Vulnerable on its Red List of Threatened Species.
- Luckily, the Hyacinth Macaw now enjoys some legal protection. It’s now covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Illegal collecting, however, still occurs within much of its native range.
- While the desire of humans to have it as a pet began the decline of its numbers, it now faces other perils. Habitat loss now forms a serious threat to it, given its natural range. The ongoing effects of climate change, though, now likely form its greatest threat.
Hyacinth Macaw Physical Description
Although perhaps best known for its great beauty, the Hyacinth Macaw stands out from its many related species for more than just that. It’s also extremely large for a parrot. In point of fact, this gorgeous bird ranks as the longest of all known types of parrot.
It’s not the heaviest, though. That distinction belongs a flightless relative. Regarding its length, this avian attains an average length among mature adults of about 3.3 ft (1 m). This measurement extends from the top of its head to the tip of its large tail.
The stunning creature does not, however, display any noticeable degree of the physiological trait of sexual dimorphism. In this specific respect, it differs from many other birds. Thus, adults of both sexes reach the same average weight, that of 2.6 – 3.7 lb (1.2 – 1.7 kg).
The outward appearance of the Hyacinth Macaw, though, remains its most immediately obvious characteristic. Its feathers develop as completely blue, but lighter above than beneath. Yet it also has bright yellow rings around the eyes, and an area under the beak.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Psittacifromes
- Family: Psittacidae
- Genus: Anodorhynchus
- Species: A. hyacinthinus
Hyacinth Macaw Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Most unfortunately, the awesome bird appropriately known as the Hyacinth Macaw only inhabits a small section of the world. Evidence indicates, though, that the beautiful bird once inhabited a significantly greater portion of its part of the globe.
Currently, the vulnerable bird only appears in certain areas of the continent of South America. More precisely, known populations of the animal appear in the countries of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. But unfortunately, even there it mainly lives in scattered pockets.
This marvel of Nature also displays very strong preferences for its choice of habitats, as well as areas it avoids. Virtually all known individuals live in areas of either woodlands, palm swamps, and similar semi-open wooded areas. Meanwhile, it strictly avoids denser forests.
The Hyacinth Macaw evolved as entirely herbivorous in nature. Within its native range, its diet mainly consists of various nuts, such as Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts. Individuals also consume smaller quantities of such food as fruit, seeds, and other vegetable matter.
In temperament, it typically remains one of the gentlest and calmest of all related birds. Mated pairs typically nest between July and December, in a nest built either in a cavity of a tree, or on the face of a cliff. After mating, females generally lay 1 -2 eggs at a time.
- The third entry into this compilation of 5 Amazing Andean Species is one that might surprise many people, the beautiful feline named the Cougar.
- The short term for the animal serves as but one of the common names assigned to this magnificent wild feline. It other common names include the mountain lion, puma, painter, panther, and catamount. The variety of names occur due to its wide range.
- Scientists, meanwhile, know the stunning feline by the term Puma concolor. Regardless of the name one uses for it, the animal remains one of the most recognizable of the smaller wild felines. It’s also the most widespread of any in its Hemisphere.
- The renowned Swedish zoologist, Carl Linnaeus, holds the credit for the first acknowledged scientific recognition and naming of the species. This achievement he accomplished in 1771. The name he chose, however, later changed several times.
- This breathtaking feline obviously evolved as a slender and agile member of the cat family. It also holds a unique distinction. That’s because, though not technically one of the so-called big cats, it’s the fourth largest of all known wild felines.
- Even though its population doesn’t compare to past numbers, this appears stable throughout its range. The IUCN, therefore, currently lists it as Least Concern. It does face several threats, including the ever-increasing danger posed by climate change.
Cougar Physical Description
Unlike some species, the breathtaking Cougar actually impresses us with its size, in addition to other factors. The animal also, however, displays the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism. In this, in fact, it mirrors virtually all know types of feline, wild and domestic.
In its specific case, though, this trait manifests in terms of size, with males of the species attaining slightly greater lengths and weights. Mature adults of both genders, however, vary greatly in height, averaging between 24 -35 in (60 – 90 cm) tall at the shoulders.
In terms of length, meanwhile, is where the size differences appear the most obvious. The males of this feline attain an average nose-to-tail length equaling roughly 7.9 ft (2.4 m). Females, however, generally reach an overall length of about 6.7 ft (2.05 m).
It bears pointing out, though, that of this total measurement, the tail itself comprises 25 – 37 in (63 – 95 cm) of this. The males, meanwhile, typically reach a weight of between 115 – 220 lb (53 – 100 kg). Females, on the other hand, average 64 – 141 lb (29 – 64 kg).
The Cougar also boasts other impressive statistics. Its rounded head displays erect ears. The feline has a jaw and forequarters powerful enough to grasp large prey. It also has five retractable claws on the forepaws, and proportionately the largest hindlegs in the cat family.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Felidae
- Genus: Puma
- Species: P. concolor
Cougar Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Pleasantly surprisingly, the gorgeous Cougar inhabits a comparatively large section of the globe. More precisely, it appears in a range that extends from parts of Canada to the Andes in South America. Its greatest concentration, however, remains in North America.
Aiding in its continued existence as a species is the fact that it evolved as a highly adaptable creature. This flexibility allows it to inhabit a wide variety of habitat types within its native range. Most notably, though, these include forests, lowlands, mountains, and arid climates.
Its incredible physique allows the impressive feline some of the greatest leaping and short-sprint ability of any animal. Individuals have the ability to jump as high as 18 ft (5.5 m) in one bound. These also evolved the capacity to leap as far as 40-45 ft (12-14 m) horizontally.
But Nature did not stop there. This animal also boasts some extremely impressive speeds. The top running velocity of the animal also ranges between 40-50 mph (64-80 kph). They remain, however, best capable of short, powerful sprints as opposed to long chases.
The remarkable Cougar also feeds entirely as a carnivore. As a supremely successful generalist predator, the mammal further feeds opportunistically. Specimens therefore eat any animal they can catch, from insects to large ungulates in excess of 1,100 lbs (500 kg).
Investigations in Yellowstone National Park showed that elk, followed by mule deer, were the animal’s primary targets. The mammal further evolved as adept at climbing, allowing it to evade canine competitors. Although not strongly associated with water, it does swim.
Arrowleaf Elephant Ear
Arrowleaf Elephant Ear Facts
- The next plant appearing amaong these choices for inclusion in this article about 5 Amazing Andean Species is the fascinating flora named the Arrowleaf Elephant Ear.
- The term for this species serves as one of the common names for a visually surprising plant. It also goes by the alternate names of American taro, blue taro, and purple taro, however. Many cultivars also now exist in various parts of the world.
- But professional botanists may know it best by its official scientific name. That’s the all but unpronounceable term of Xanthosoma sagittifolium. Regardless of the name by which one knows it, though, it presents a strikingly distinctive structure to the observer.
- The popularity of the plant depends on perspectives, due to its nature. In some regions it’s widely cultivated as a food crop, for its leaves and tubers. It’s also often used in local efforts at reforestation, as a source of weed control, and as a shade provider.
- For others, though, it’s frequently seen as an invasive species, due to its ability to grow and spread rapidly. The Arrowleaf Elephant Ear can produce grown specimens from corms within 14 weeks. These can the produce 10 or more corms within 10 months.
- The IUCN presently has no listing for this amazing plant on its Red List. This occurs due its presence in dozens of countries around the world, as well as its reproductive capacities. Nonetheless, like most species, it remains vulnerable to climate change.
Arrowleaf Elephant Ear Physical Description
The most readily apparent physical characteristic of the Arrowleaf Elephant Ear needs no clarification. That’s due to the fact that the sheer size of the plant in general cannot be mistaken. Some specimens, in fact, attain a vertical measurement of up to 9 ft (2.7 m)
It’s the foliage of the plant, though, that takes this principle to the next level. Each individual leaf sometimes reaches lengths of as much as 6.6 ft (2 m)! Relative to the height of the plant, this size, along with their shape, causes many to compare them to the ears of an elephant.
The enormous leaves present a dark green upper surface, along with a lighter shade on the underside. These further develop atop relatively slender, long stems protruding from the thick, fleshy base. Each specimen also produces multiples of these stems and leaves.
Amazingly, the Arrowleaf Elephant Ear sometimes spreads via aerial roots that it produces. It also achieves pollination through the combined actions of bees, flies, and beetles. The edible corm the Angiosperm produces serves as a natural storage location for nutrients.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Tracheophytes
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Alismatales
- Family: Araceae
- Genus: Xanthosoma
- Species: X. sagittifoilum
Arrowleaf Elephant Ear Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
While the Arrowleaf Elephant Ear now appears in many regions of the world, its exact origins remain something of a mystery. The most precise estimate researchers can manage places its origins somewhere in the northern regions of the continent of South America.
More exactly, the theorized general area of its evolution includes what now forms the countries of Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Not surprisingly, therefore, its native habitat consists of regions of relatively dense, warm, and humid tropical forests.
Even within such regions, though, the Arrowleaf Elephant Ear, like many species, has certain preferences. In its case, the Angiosperm appears natively most commonly on the banks of streams, and in shaded areas. It nevertheless has remarkable adaptability.
For that reason, it appears, even in its native region, at virtually all altitudes. In portions of the globe it has spread to, it appears in diverse habitats. These include areas of pinelands, wet ditches, wetlands, and even along the outlying borders of swamps.
This species, widely used in cultivation, appears in the local cuisines of many countries. Furthermore, it does so in a vast array of forms. These include pastes, stews, soups, and even served in manners similar to a potato. Both the corm and leaves have nutritional value.
Claudina Butterfly Facts
- The fifth and final entry into our compendium of 5 Amazing Andean Species is the magnificent Lepidoptera known as the Claudina Butterfly.
- This beautiful variety of invertebrate most frequently goes by this simple common name. The marvel of Nature also has another common name, however. That’s because, though it’s less frequently heard, it’s also sometimes known as the Claudina agrias.
- In a comparatively uncommon pattern, both of these terms are very similar to the formal, scientific name of the marvel of evolution. That’s due to the fact that researchers commonly refer to the insect by its technical name, the Agrias claudina.
- Regardless of which of these related and similar terms one uses to refer to it, one fact remains paramount. That’s the simple fact that it’s a truly beautiful species of butterfly. Interestingly, many subspecies of the invertebrate also exist, many in the same region.
- It received its technical name at the hands of the French entomologist, Jean-Baptiste Godart. The respected researcher made the original recognition of it as a separate and distinct species. This action took place as a result of his research, in the year 1824.
- For the moment, it appears to be maintaining a sufficient and stable population base. That fact further seems to hold true throughout its range. Therefore, the IUCN has no listing for the beautiful Claudina Butterfly on its Red List Of Threatened Species.
- Local governments and organizations nevertheless consider it to be Threatened, due to several factors. Given where it lives, habitat loss represents an ever-present danger. The ongoing process of climate change also represents a potential threat to it.
Claudina Butterfly Physical Description
The breathtaking Claudina Butterfly is a truly dazzling Lepidoptera. Although best known for its great visual appeal, it also qualifies as impressive for yet another reason. That’s the fact that, along with that beauty, the creature also attains a highly respectable physical size.
Total wingspan varies significantly between individuals, as with many related species. In its case, however, that variation has nothing to do with gender. Overall, though, a wingspan for a mature adult varies from 2.8 – 4.7 in (7 – 12 cm). That’s quite large for a butterfly.
In terms of overall general appearance, however, it mafiests only a small degree of sexual dimorphism. The sole exception to this is the presence of prominent yellow tufts on the hindwings of the males. These are special scales that release pheremones to attract females.
The upperside of the wings of this natural wonder present a magnificent view. More precisely, these typically present as dark black, with brilliant crimson red patches showing on the forewings. The fascinating insect also generally manifests small patches of blue.
The underside of the wings of the Claudina Butterfly, though, are quite different than the upperside. This part of the anatomy of the invertebrate presents a striking combination of colors and patterns. Overall, though, the colors include red, blue, black, and gold.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Nymphalidae
- Genus: Agrias
- Species: A. claudina
Claudina Butterfly Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Fortunately, both for the Claudina Butterfly itself, as well as those who appreciate Nature, the insect inhabits a modrately large section of the globe. That’s due to the fact that it appears in the approximate northern half of the continent of South America.
More precisely, its habitat range begins in the far northern portion of the continent, mainly in the countries of Guyana and Venezuela. From there, the marvelous arthropod extends its known zone of habitation as far as the western-central country of Bolivia.
Within that relatively extensive range, however, the habitat preferences of the butterfly reduce its potential areas of habitation somewhat. That’s due to the fact that observed individuals only appear at altitudes ranging from around 656 – 1,969 ( 200 – 600 m).
Throughout that area, though, it appears in both primary and secondary regions of rainforest. The nature of this ecosystem provides the gorgeous invertebrate with everything that it needs. It further spends the majority of its time high the in thick canopy.
Individuals generally only descend to lower heights to feed. When they do, however, they typically find their choice of food in abundance. That’s because the adults usually feed on either decomposing fish, or on rotting fruit that has fallen to the forest floor.
After mating, the female Claudina Butterfly lays her eggs on the leaves of food plants, one egg per plant. After hatching, the larvae feed nocturnally, and rest on the twigs of the food plant by day. When formed, the chrysalis hangs from the same food plant.
5 Amazing Andean Species
We truly hope that you have thoroughly enjoyed reading, and hopefully learning from, this article about 5 Amazing Andean Species. We certainly greatly enjoyed presenting it to you. It’s also our hope that doing so inspired you to learn of more such wonders.
Sadly, though, many of the other forms of life on this planet now find themselves in dire situations. It’s up to each and every one of us to do all that we can to protect and preserve these products of millions of years of evolution for our descendents to enjoy, like us.
Check out our other articles on 4 North Carolina Natural Marvels, The Mighty Tornado, 5 Amazing Asian Amphibians, Earth’s Many Magical Moths, 3 Completely Captivating Crocodilians
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