AmericasBrian BezalelBy LocationCentral AmericaNaturePhotos

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Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica – Costa Rica is considered to possess the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide.

While encompassing just one third of a percent of Earth’s landmass, approximately the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica contains four percent of species estimated to exist on the planet. It is home to more than 500,000 species, making it one of the 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Of these 500,000 species, a little more than 300,000 are insects.

Hundreds of these species are endemic to Costa Rica, meaning they exist nowhere else on earth. These endemic species include frogs, snakes, lizards, finches, hummingbirds, gophers, mice, cichlids, and gobies among many more.

Costa Rica supports an enormous variety of wildlife, due in large part to its geographic position between the North and South American continents, its neotropical climate, and its wide variety of habitats.

One of the principal sources of biodiversity is that the country, together with the land now considered Panama, formed a bridge connecting the North and South American continents approximately three to five million years ago. This bridge allowed the very different flora and fauna of the two continents to mix.

One species found in Costa Rica is the mantled howler monkey. Howling allows the monkeys to locate each other without expending energy on moving or risking physical confrontation. Infant howler monkeys are carried under their mother, clinging to its mother’s chest for the first 2 or 3 weeks of its life. After that, it is carried on its mother’s back. At about 3 months the mother will usually start to push the infant off, but will still carry the infant some of the time until it is 4 or 5 months old. After the young can move on its own, the mother will carry it across difficult gaps in the trees.

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