South America


Rare Stingray Pups On-Exhibit at Zoo Basel

Zoo Basel welcomed nine rare Black-tailed Antenna Stingrays on November 5th. The small, yet sensational pups are doing well and can be seen in the zoo’s aquarium exhibit.

The Black-tailed Antenna Stingray (Plesiotrygon nana), also known as the Dwarf Antenna Ray, is a freshwater Stingray that is native to the rivers and sections of the rear Amazon Basin in Eastern Peru.

The small Stingray was scientifically described for the first time in 2011. They are one of two recognized species in the family Potamotrygonidae (the other being the Long-tailed River Stingray)…

(read more: ZooBorns)


Giant mantas (Manta birostris) are large filter feeding elasmobranchs, this species is know to grow up to seven metres across, weighing up to 1350kg, but the average size is four to five metres. And if is about its biology and feeding habits, little is known.

Dietary information for Manta species is based mostly on observational data, primarily gained during daylight, near the ocean surface. Zooplankton collected by plankton tows at the time of these events has been assumed to represent the species’ diet. but a new study has discovered they are also deep-ocean predators. 

Using biochemical tests -such as stable isotope analysis who could reveals what they eats- were obtainerd from piece of tissue from a muscle biopsy from living mantas. Researchers studied mantas on Isla de la Plata, off the Ecuador mainland, that seasonally hosted the world’s largest aggregation of giant manta rays. And what they found was the majority of the giant manta rays’ diet was from deep sources rather than surface zooplankton.

In order to protect them, knowledge of their predator role and foraging strategies is essential to better understand their ecology and develop effective conservation measures.

Anita Malfatti

Anita Malfatti was born on December 2, 1889 in São Paolo, Brazil. Malfatti is remembered for introducing Modernist art in Brazil. Expressionist and Futurist elements are evident in some of her pieces, while post-Impressionism influenced others. In a city that had not yet developed its own vibrant artistic scene, Malfatti’s art often shocked and scandalized its audiences for defying the Academy’s rules as well as societal expectations of femininity. She is remembered today as a pioneer of Brazilian art.

Anita Malfatti died in 1964 at the age of 74.


Lansberg’s Golden Hog-nosed Viper (Porthidium lansbergii rozei), Venezuela

These venomous snakes are found in Southern central America and the Northern half of South America, but this subspecies is endemic to Venezuela. They feed on a wide variety of small vertebrates, and grow to a maximum length of 90 cm (35.5 in).

photographs by Dick Bartlett
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 :)


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.


Marble Caves, Marble Chapel and Marble Cathedral

… are an unusual geological formation located at the centre of General Carrera Lake in Chile. They represent a group of caverns, columns and tunnels formed in monoliths of marble. The Marble Caves have been formed by wave action over the last 6,200 years.

(via: Wikipedia)

photos: Nick Herber, Chelsea3048, and Dan Lundburg

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.