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Summer of Adventure – Jungle Facts

From rare medicines to ant-eating zombie fungi, how many of these amazing jungle facts do you already know?

They’re one of the world’s most important ecosystems and home to some really cool animals. That’s right – they’re jungles! But how much do you know about them? Check this handy list to find out!

1. Over half of the world’s plants and animals live in jungles

Which is amazing seeing as that only 6% of the world is covered in jungle or rainforest. Jungles are so full of life that they’re really important for the Planet’s health, and are great places for scientists to study all these living things.

2. Jungles aren’t the same as rainforests

The word jungle is a general word for any thick forest in a warm, wet, tropical place. Rainforests are more specific – they’re only those jungles that have a thick canopy of trees that blocks out light getting to the forest floor. This means animals often live high up in the trees, whilst in other jungles the action all takes place on the ground floor!

3. Jungles are tough places to live

Jungles are full of living things, from plants and fungi to insects, birds and cute fluffy things like possums. There’s always something in the jungle that’s eating something else – or getting eaten! So unless you’re the top of the food chain, you really have to watch out in the jungle – or you might end up as somebody’s dinner!

4. Poisonous plants!

Because plants also have to work really hard to survive in jungles, lots of them have evolved to make poisons to protect themselves. Take the gympie gympie plant from Northern Australia and Indonesia – it’s basically a giant stinging nettle, but MUCH more dangerous. A sting from the gympie gympie is agony, and it lasts for days or even weeks. You can even get stung just by breathing in the air around it! Brrrr!

5. Zombie fungus!

It’s not just plants that have evolved some terrifying skills in the jungle. There’s a type of fungus called Ophiocordyceps that can take over the brains of ants. It sounds like a horror movie, but it’s real life! The fungi controls the ant and makes it climb trees – and when the ant reaches the perfect spot the fungus grows tiny mushrooms out of the ants head, releasing spores which then infect more ants!

6. The world’s smallest jungle

You might know that the Amazon is the world’s biggest jungle but did you know about the world’s smallest? It’s Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve and is a teeny tiny 25 acres – right in the middle of the gigantic city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia! It’s home to monkeys, pythons, butterflies and…squirrels!

7. Lions DON’T live in Jungles!

They might be called the “King of the Jungle”, but lions actually live in savannah – a totally different ecosystem!

8. Lots of medicines come from jungles

The amazing plants in the jungle don’t just sting you – many of them make powerful chemicals that are really useful for medicine. Lots of modern treatments contain ingredients made from jungle plants, and can be used to fight malaria, cancer, and even to improve your mood!

@natgeochannel | giphy

9. Jungles soak up carbon

Jungles are really important for the planet. They soak up carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, giving us nice fresh air. They also cycle water around the Earth, filling up the rivers which supply us with clean water. Without them, life on Earth would be very different – and that would be really bad news for us humans. Yep – we really need jungles!

10. Jungles need us too!

Well, they need us to stop cutting them down! At the moment, an area the size of 40 football fields gets cut down every minute. This is obviously terrible for the animals that live there – but it adds massively to the climate crisis, too. Humans have cut down about half of all the jungles and forests in the world – and if we keep going like this we’ll be in big trouble soon.

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