We are still slogging our way through the Amazon on this tour of the mystifying, terrifying, death-defying and—on no!—magnifying!
You are entering the land of giants. Is it something in the water? The Amazon is fed by tributaries that run to two consistencies and colors: muddy and brown from suspended silt or thin and tannic black from rotting leaf litter. But neither seems to account for the abundance of super-sized animals, often noted in their common names, including giant millipedes, giant cockroaches, giant river turtles and goliath bird-eating tarantulas.
It’s in Latin names, too. Arapaima gigas, literally giant arapaima, is the largest of the Osteoglossidae, or bonytongue, family, and one of the world’s largest freshwater fishes. Shedd’s 4-footers in River Channel are impressive, with red-edged gold-black scales shimmering like armor over their powerful bodies. But these megafish can grow to 10 feet and more than 300 pounds.
If tropical backwaters seem like a nurturing environment for gigantism, though, consider some of the creatures you’ll find in the cold Oceans gallery: giant Pacific octopus, giant Japanese spider crabs and giant deep sea isopods, which would probably have you screaming if you found them scuttling around your bathtub.
See you next week?
—Karen Furnweger, web editor
Want more creepy critters? Read our previous Halloween posts... if you dare.