Of all the ecosystems on this planet. the tropical forest IN truly the most presumed. Its main characteristics have remained unchanged for millions of years. In a sense, it is a vast plant museum. Although they have oersted longer than any other plant collection on earth. tropical forests are the last In he studied This is because they are so difficult to explore. As recently as the beginning of this century. some large and very Interesting animals that Ilve In these forests were gill unknown. Throe now animal species were discovered when the last virgin areas of equatorial Africa were explored One of them was the okapi. The okapi Is the only hying relative of Um giraffe Another recent discovery was an Old World pig This animal. now known as the giant forest pig. lives its entire life in the forest The Congo peafowl was also found. Scientists think that this peafowl Is related to large Asian land birds such as the pheasant turkey, and grouse. They are particularly interested in the peafowl because it stir. elves” long utter similar species died out Plants and animals such as the peafowl that survive, from an earlier period am called “relics? All thnro animals were discuvened and scientifically investigated The research was a long and difficult job. Scientists were aided by accidental discoveries such as skin fragments and strange feathers in out of•the way places Some clues that these animals existed came from dusty storerooms of large European and American museums. In time, the researchers went able to identify the animals. The okapi was described in 1901. The giant forest pig was described in 1904. Thu Congo peafowl was identified around 1930.
The Okapi At one time. a fish known as the coelacanth fLotimena cholumnaro was thought to be extinct Scientists know that it unix existed because they found fossil remains in waters near South Africa. Later they learned that living specimens of the coelacanth wore found in South African waters The story of the okapi’s discovery I. similar. About ten million years ago. a herbivore known by the scientific name Hnlind Ninnum lived in Europe and Ann. By 1900. scientists knew much about this animal because they found many fossil remains The deserted this ancient animal as a member of the giraffe family. Its neck and legs. bowmen were shorter than 1110.4e of the modem giraffe. In 1901.
scientists in London examined okapi skull for the first time. They found that the modem skulls were very similar to those of the animal thought to be extinct News of this okapi was first heard in 1080. At that time. the British explorer. Sir Henry Stanley. was traveling in an unexplored Congo forest From pygmies (berth, heard of a homelike animal in the deep forest Stanley knew that horses usually live In the steppe and savannah. He wondered how they could live In the Kean of the great tropical forest In 1900, scientists obtained the first evidence of this strange animal The governor of Uganda. a man named Johnstonsent two fragments skin to the Royal Zoological Society. The mysterious -horse was named lohnstoris home” until mom could tic luemud about the arintat The following year• the scientists received an entire skin and two skulls for examination They tumid that the animal we, not related to horses, mules. or antelope. Instead. It was a member of the giraffe family. Thu okapi fumed out to he the only living relative of the true giraffe. The new species was called “Johnston’s okapi; or Okapis’ johostuni. It was malty a very ancient matches The okapi is a strange and interesting mammal that bas sonic fascinating traits 11 has it largo body stmetuns measuring over 5 feet 0.7 ml high at the “withers: An animal’s withers refers to the highest point of its back It is also about 7 lent 12.1 rol long and can weigh over 550 pounds (250 kW. In general. it rotom blm a home with a nvidia brown coot Its Matinee demand forelegs are covered with large, uneven black•and•white stripes. Thu okapi is also known for its unusual tongue. The tongue is very long and functions like en elephant’s trunk. It makes It easy for the okapi to gather !caeca. twigs, and fruit on which it feeds. Like all forest species, the okapi is very difficult to study. Little is known about its behavior. Its diet is mainly vegetation. consisting of leaves. tender twigs. hull and shoot. In claiming It finds grasses. knew and motorhome Sometimes It eats cultivated plants such as cassava and sweet potato.A strange part of its diet Sionista plant that Is ‘airy poisonous to both people and other animals The okapis prefer dry, dense forest areas whom they live alone. They pair only long enough In mate. They are territorial and defend their own regions. Al most one okapi occupies about one third of • square mile( I sq. km). Its only predator other than people is the leopard. But young okapi are also prey for the African golden at and the sent.