The Amazon Rainforest, commonly known also as the Amazon Jungle or Amazonia, covers the area of the Amazon River basin in South America. The rainforest is located mostly in Brazil but it also goes into areas of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, Venezuela, French Guiana, Suriname and Bolivia. The rainforest covers a vast 1.4 billion acres and is a great habitat for living species. In fact, the Amazon has the richest in animal life of all the rainforests in the world. According to historians, Amazon Rainforest history began many millions of years ago when the Amazon River changed its flow from East to West and created the forest.
The Amazon Rainforest is believed to be at least fifty five million years old and was formed in the Eocene era. Temperatures had fallen around the world and the Atlantic Ocean was wider than before, making way for a climate that would then change and become wetter and warmer. After the era of the dinosaurs, the climate became wetter still and the rainforest became larger.
Discovery and Early History
In the 16th century the Spaniard Fransico de Orellana accidentally found the forest. It was in 1541 that Orellana’s ship, which was part of Franciso Pizzaro’s army, mistakenly parted from the other ships and ended up discovering the Amazon Jungle.
By the Mid Eocene era, the basin had been split into two sections by an arch known as the Purus arch. Water from the western side drained quickly into the Pacific and from the Eastern side into the Atlantic. The modern day Amazon, however, does not drain in this way. This is because the Andes mountains having risen and formed a large lake. The lake could only hold a certain amount of water. With the progression of time the water broke through the arch and the water left by route of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Glacial Ages
The final glacial age lasted for some 21,000 years, and during this time there were significant changes made to Amazonia. Over the glacial period, the size of the forest was drastically reduced and the amount of rainfall that fell lessened as well. During the glacial period it is said that the forest covered only a minute and very isolated region were moist vegetation was present but separated by grasslands. The vegetation and the animal life that were present in the Amazonia also went through some significant changes and evolved to what is found there today.
There is much evidence to suggest that there have been humans in and around Amazonia for over 11,000 years. Studies have provided evidence and clues as to the date when humans first arrived and settled here. Proof of human life in the region has come from excavations that were carried out in Caverna Pedra Pintada. Early settlers of the area were believed to have survived through hunting.