The Amazon rainforest gets its name from the Amazon River, the life force of the rainforest. It is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, and covers some 40 percent of the South American continent. Most of it lies in Brazil, but it also forms a part of eight south American countries. The Amazon rainforest consists of four layers. Each layer has unique ecosystems, plants, and animals adapted to that system. The first and tallest layer is the emergent layer. Here, trees can be as tall as 60.96 meters, and rise well above the second layer, the canopy. This is the main layer. Most canopy trees have smooth, oval leaves that come to a point, known as a drip tip. This allows water to flow off the leaf quickly and prevents the growth of fungi, mosses, and lichens. Below the canopy is the third layer or under storey.
It gets only about two to five percent of the available sunlight. The plants in this layer find unique ways to adapt to this shadowy existence. The forest floor is the fourth and lowest layer, and almost no plants grow here. The floor is littered with decomposing vegetation and organisms that are broken down into usable nutrients.
The Amazon rain forest is an amazing place. Over 500 types of mammals, 175 lizards, and over 300 other reptiles, species, and one third of the world’s birds live in the Amazon rainforest contains half of the world’s species of animals. The Amazon rain forest is considered the world’s greatest natural resource.