South America


An electric eel leaping out the water to shock a fake alligator head.

This must be one of the most cool and weird videos to accompany a scientific paper this year so far. The video and experiment demonstrates how eels react to half-submerged predators by leaping up out of water and administering defensive volleys of high-voltage electricity

Electric eels (Electrophorus electricus) are shown to leap from the water to directly electrify threats. This shocking behavior likely allows electric eels to defend themselves during the Amazonian dry season, when they may be found in small pools and in danger of predation. The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

       - Leaping eel in real time

The study support Alexander von Humboldt’s story of electric eels attacking horses that had been herded into a muddy pool during the dry season in 1800 on a field trip to the Amazon.

The finding highlights sophisticated behaviors that have evolved in concert with the eel’s powerful electrical organs. By the way no one knows how an electric eel can electrocute its victim without shocking itself.

Just $80 worth of coca leaves from a Colombian farmer can undergo a simple process to become $800 worth of coca paste. The paste can then be transformed into a $2,147 brick of pure cocaine, which holds a $34,700 value after crossing the US border and becomes $120,000 in sales on the streets of NYC. 

If you calculate the cost from farm to nose, cocaine trafficking yields a 150,000% profit.

First trans couple in Ecuador to have a baby say they want to have more
A trans couple from Ecuador who made history when they had their first baby earlier this year have said they want to expand their flock.

Diane Rodriguez – a prominent LGBT-activist – last year shared the exciting news that her boyfriend Fernando Machado was pregnant with their son.

Ms Rodriguez and Mr Machado – who have been a couple since 2013 – believed their first pregnancy was the first of its kind in South America.

The couple announced their pregnancy online, and Mr Machado gave birth to their child in June.

“We are the same as other families. Even though we might not have the same rights, we’re the same,” Mr Machado told the BBC, saying they want to expand their growing family even further.

Of the obstacles to being recognised as female, and thinking she would never be a mother, Ms Rodriguez said: “Being a mother was never something I thought I would do because I am a transsexual… The law before demanded that to be recognised as a woman you had to be castrated.”

Ms Rodriguez first made headlines in her native country in 2013, when she became the he first Ecuadorian trans candidate to run for Congress.

She has previously campaigned for trans rights across South America, after recounting her own struggles after she came out.

The advocate says she was shunned by her family, before being thrown out and forced to live on the streets.

Luckily, the pair have the full support of Mr Machado’s family, as well as the thousands of well-wishers who have congratulated the pair online.

What a beautiful family! Congratulations Diane and Fernando :)
Bolivia votes to allow trans people to officially change their name and gender
This is a victory for trans people in Bolivia

Bolivian politicians have approved a bill to allow trans people to change their name and gender on official documents.

The Chamber of Deputies approved the bill which will forever change the legal standing of trans people in the South American country.

The Gender Identity bill still needs to be approved by the Senate before being signed into law by President Evo Moralas.

It has been a long awaited process, with the bill first being proposed in 2012 by the national coordinator of the Bolivian trans movement. Raysa Torriani.

It was backed by Bolivia’s Deputy Justice Minister Diego Jimenez who said Bolivia’s constitution prohibits all forms of discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

Trans people will still need to apply to the Ministry of Justice for a psychological examination prior to legally changing their identity.

Awesome news, Bolivia!