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Five Species Unique to Colombia: Treasures of Biodiversity


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These five unique species offer just a small glimpse into Colombia’s extraordinary biodiversity. Credit: Brian Gratwicke/CC BY 2.0

Colombia is a country blessed with exceptional natural wealth. Its geographical location, diverse ecosystems, and varied climates have created an environment conducive to astonishing biodiversity. In fact approximately 10% of the world’s species are endemic to Colombia, meaning they are found nowhere else.

Five unique species that make Colombia a place of unparalleled biological richness

  1. Ornate Titi Monkey

The ornate titi monkey, also known as the white-handed tamarin or zocay, is a fascinating primate found exclusively in Colombia. This small primate has reddish-brown fur covering most of its body, with gray and white patches on its back and upper limbs. Its hands and feet are white, giving it the name “white-handed.”

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Titi Monkey. Credit: Miguel Angel Rodriguez Zambrano/CC BY-NC 4.0

Although it is distributed across various habitats along a corridor of at least 20,000 kilometers, its population is fragmented due to habitat loss from deforestation and agriculture. This species is considered vulnerable to extinction due to these threats.

  1. Chiribiquete Emerald Hummingbird

This emerald hummingbird, endemic to the remote Sierra de Chiribiquete in the Colombian Amazon region, is a winged jewel known for its vibrant colors. With a short, straight, and thick bill, it measures approximately 8 centimeters in length and weighs up to 4 grams. Its feathers shimmer with iridescent green hues, while the sides of its head and tail often display blue or purple tones.

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Emerald Hummingbird Chiribiquette. Credit: Mayron McKewy Mejia/CC BY-NC 3.0

This hummingbird feeds on insects and flower nectar, and it constructs its nests using plant materials. Fortunately, its habitat in the Sierra de Chiribiquete is relatively protected.

  1. Gorgona Blue Lizard

The Gorgona blue lizard is an amazing reptile found only on Gorgona Island in the Colombian Pacific. This medium-sized lizard stands out due to its distinctive blue color, which is present in both males and females. Despite its small size, rarely exceeding five centimeters in length, its unique coloration makes it unmistakable.

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Gorgon Blue Lizard. Credit: Diego Gomez/CC BY-NC 2.0

Gorgona Island became a national park in 1984, which helped protect this unique species. While its exact population is hard to determine due to its elusive nature, the Gorgona blue lizard faces threats such as hunting, deforestation, and climate change.

  1. Poison Dart Frog

The poison dart frog, scientifically known as Phyllobates terribilis, is an endemic species of the Colombian Pacific coast. This frog is famous for its extremely potent poison, which is one of the deadliest toxins in the world. Its skin contains a deadly toxin that indigenous people used to poison the tips of their hunting darts.

Despite its venom, this frog is harmless and usually flees from threats. It primarily feeds on insects and fruits found in its habitat of tropical rainforests in the Choco, Cauca, and Valle del Cauca departments.

  1. Blue-billed Curassow

The blue-billed curassow, also known as the pavon or Colombian curassow, is a galliform bird endemic to northern Colombia. This bird is notable for its curly black crest and blue bill. Despite its size, which can reach one meter in length, it is a critically endangered bird due to habitat loss and other factors.

The blue-billed curassow primarily feeds on insects, fruits, and plants and plays an important role in seed dispersal and the regeneration of the tropical forests where it resides.

These five unique species offer just a small glimpse into Colombia’s extraordinary biodiversity. The conservation of these natural treasures is essential to ensure a sustainable future for Colombian wildlife and the planet as a whole.

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