A Hidden Wonder in Brazil

It’s not true that the age of discovery is over, and everything worth knowing has already been found. We live in an age of revelations, such as the resting site of one of the ships from the lost Franklin expedition, an immense canyon in Greenland, and an unknown tapir in the Amazon. How can an mammal that travels in groups and weighs 200 pounds have remained undiscovered for so long? What is remarkable is the pace of the discoveries.  A new species of wolf has just been revealed in the Himalaya. Three new species of lemurs were discovered by researchers at the University of Kentucky. Multiple new species were just discovered in the ocean off of Atlantic Canada. Still, all of these discoveries are less surprising than the recent announcement that a coral reef exists at the mouth of the Amazon. The reef is the size of Delaware. Part of the reason that it hasn’t been studied before was that nobody thought that such a reef could exist in the fresh water and heavy sediments that pour into the ocean from the river. If we can miss an ecosystem 600 miles long (965 kilometers) long, what else is out there that we’re missing?

If you are interested in Latin America, you might wish to read either my book on the region’s AIDS epidemic, or my study of military terror in Brazil.

Shawn Smallman, 2016

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