The 'Lost City' in Honduras is home to creatures thought to be extinct
By: April Carson
A hidden archeological site deep in the Mosquitia rainforest of Honduras houses ancient ruins and a thriving ecosystem. Nestled among steep ridges, this verdant refuge is truly a sight to behold.
For centuries, people have been whispering about a pre-Columbian settlement in this area, often called the "Lost City of the Monkey God" or "La Ciudad Blanca."
The aviator Charles Lindbergh said he saw it from the sky when flying over Central America in the 1920s-- and many explorers have tried to find the spot without success.
Some believe that the archaeological site discovered in 2015 is the actual settlement that inspired to legend.
But the most fascinating thing about this rainforest isn't its history-- it's its wildlife.
Recently, scientists have discovered that the Mosquitia rainforest is home to creatures thought to be extinct, like the pig-like peccary and the big-eyed owl monkey.
Recently, a group of scientists from Conservation International's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) teamed up with the Government of Honduras to study a remote area. They discovered that this region is home to many rare species, including a tiger beetle that was previously thought to be extinct.
This is an exciting find for the scientific community and provides hope for the future conservation of these creatures.
The Honduran government wanted to know what animals lived in this untouched region, so it hired a team to conduct an extensive survey of the region's biodiversity. Overall, the group documented 246 species of butterflies and moths, 30 bats, 57 amphibians and reptiles, as well as other creatures including plants, fish, animals, and insects.
The team had to get to this remote location, which was difficult because many of the animals are rare and endangered.
It's thrilling to visit areas where there are so few alternatives, according to Trond Larsen, director of Conservation International's quick assessment program. "There are no roads here; there is no logistical infrastructure available; therefore, you must fly in," he says. "You end up going to places where wildlife is generally much more abundant when you do that."
According to Dr. Jim Larsen, the animals and creatures that dwell in the region are unaccustomed to human contact, which produced some unexpected encounters between man and beast.
"There's a lot of wildlife to see in this part of Vietnam," he adds. "For example, there are huge groups of monkeys that hang out and attempt to figure out what you are and what's going on, which is a wonderful opportunity to view a lot of different species." He also notes the area's beauty and peace.
"It really is a very special place," he says. "You feel like you're in the Garden of Eden sometimes when you're there."
"You can often just see big, ancient trees in areas that are more impacted by people. These massive trees, which may be hundreds or even thousands of years old and are simply amazing in size, it's incredible to witness."
Larsen finds spotting rare and endangered creatures just as exciting as the ongoing archaeological excavations in the region.
"Probably the most exciting finds were the rediscoveries of these species that [were] thought to be extinct in Honduras for a long time," he says. The explorer was hit with surprise upon seeing the white-lipped peccaries -- a species distantly related to pigs.
"We didn't anticipate to find them there, but it was a really good sign of this intact ecosystem, since they need such huge areas and move across vast landscapes in order to survive," he adds.
While on his expedition -- sleeping in tents and hammocks deep in the verdant forest -- Larsen enjoyed getting close to the local wildlife by taking photographs of them.
"I always like to get right in there, down in the dirt, and fully search everywhere for anything we can find," he says with a smile.
It was on one of these occasions that he spotted a deer-like creature, which he initially thought was an ocelot.
"I took some pictures of it and when I showed them to my guide he said 'no, that's not an ocelot, it's a paca!' I had never seen or heard of such an animal before."
The next day Larsen was keen to get a closer look at the paca and managed to find one asleep in the undergrowth.
"I crept up as close as I could and just watched it for ages," he recalls. "It was so amazing to see this creature that I knew so little about."
Larsen took a variety of photographs, from close-ups that show the animals in intricate detail to wide shots highlighting the creatures' natural habitat.
Although the paca is not an endangered species, it is rarely seen by humans due to its shy and elusive nature.
"I have to maintain a balance on these trips," he says. "I'm a scientist first and foremost, so I collect data and take notes as one of the biologists on these expeditions. But I also bring my camera equipment with me everywhere we go so that I can photograph what we're seeing."
Although the photographs capture harsh realities, they also offer hope by capturing stunning landscapes and creatures. Larsen hopes that viewers of his images will be inspired to consider the beauty of our planet's wildlife.
"But being able to inspect up close what you may discover in some of these far-flung remote regions of the planet, I believe it has a powerful effect on folks, especially young people and those who haven't had the chance to travel much throughout the world," he explains.
The 'Lost City' in Honduras is one such place. The region is home to creatures thought to be extinct, including the world's largest caterpillar, which can grow up to three feet long.
"It's really an untouched spot on the planet," says Larsen. "In terms of its ecology and evolution, it's nearly identical to what you would have found on the earth 100 million years ago."
Larsen's work has taken him to all seven continents, and he has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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