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Home > Biodiversity

The island's rainforests are almost unrivaled in their diversity.
Smaller than Texas, Madagascar is home to a prodigious diversity of fauna and flora more varied than that of all of North America. Some researchers estimate that there are over 12,000 distinct plant species --- 80 percent of which are found nowhere else on the planet.

This section is a snapshot of some of that amazing ecological diversity.

First, you will be introduced to two remarkable species: fossas, which look like a cross between a cat and a dog, and their favorite snack, lemurs, which are our tree-dwelling primate cousins.

Dan Grossman speaks with fossa researchers Luke Dollar and Julie Pomerantz. Listen as they tell you how they manage to track and capture the animal. You can see photographs of the elusive beast itself and pictures of various species of lemurs, from the golden bamboo to the sifaka. You will also learn about lemur behavior from researcher Patricia Wright, who shares observations based on 20 years of study.

A photographic exploration of a rainforest (also known as a "humid forest") and a dry forest will acquaint you with the island's different forest types. Ranomafana National Park is a rainforest, home to a lemur species that was first discovered by Wright. The dry forests are found in the western part of the country: their inhabitants -- including the near-extinct and impossibly large ploughshare tortoise -- have adapted to going for long periods without rain.

Finally, the "Frogs, Birds and Bugs" page contains an assortment of creatures photographed by Grossman on an expedition to the rainforest of the Marotandrano Special Reserve. Here you can view photographs of birds with vibrant plumage, wide-toed frogs clinging to trees and short-horned chameleons.

Related Topics

The Forest Primeval Fossas: The Island's Top DogsLemurs: Oldest Primates

Frogs, Birds, and Bugs

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