02 May, 2008

Weekend Field Foto - Hoatzins in primeval jungle

Like in previous episodes of my weekend field fotos I will use more than one foto. To be frank this was not directly a geology related field trip but a private tour in my time in Peru to the Peruvian Amazonas close-by to the city of Iquitos. We stayed in a lodge around 140km upstream from Iquitos in the middle of the jungle. So why do I post these fotos? It is because the jungle foto is so much like I personally image the jungles and swamps of the Dinosaurs to have looked like. Strange, unpenetrable and with weird animals.

Those trees, I don't have a clue how they are called, really gave me the shivers once I first saw them. They remind me a lot of color illustrations of the jungles and swamps of the Dinosaurs and are so much as I imagine them to be like. To make this impression even better we had the rare chance to encounter one of the most enigmatic birds that exist. Living Hoatzins!

It is a rare bird specialised on eating gras, leafs and green fruits. Unlike any other bird it has a weird disgestive system with fermentation much like modern cattle have it. The young birds even have claws on their wings to help climbing in the trees though they recede in adults. No other modern relatives exist and based on DNA analysis it has been placed in its own order Opisthocomiformes. It was quite a battle to keep the balance standing upright on the dugout canoe and I was extremely glad to have bought a digital camera with a BIG zoom. Those birds are very shy and flee at even the slightest disturbance. We had to keep a significant distance to not disturb them breeding. Although not on the list of threatened species they are hard to find. Their prehistoric appearance reminds of Archaeopteryx but there is no connection as far as I know, claws on their wings are likely a modern adaptation. You can see one Hoatzin bird on the lower foto right in the centre. One of the best fotos I managed to take.


Silver Fox said...

A strange and beautiful bird!

Ron Schott said...

You were closer to WoGE #122 than you may have realized! ;-)