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Hoatzins, Magellan and the Vikings:  world´s greatest navigators.

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM / by Kurt Holle

Kurt Holle


 Magellan circumnavigated the globe in 1537. The worlds first sailor to do so. He even got a strait named after him – his claim to fame.


The Vikings routinely crossed the Arctic on their way to North America from Greenland, Iceland or Scandinavia. Not easy one thousand years ago.


The Hoatzin? The flightless bizarre pheasant-like bird with a punk haircut that lives in Amazonian lakes deserves to be on the list. Maybe not top 3 navigators. But definitely top 20.

Fauna - Birds - PK - Hoatzin.jpg


Here´s why:


  • Gerald Mayr recently found a hoatzin fossil from the Cretacean in Namibia, in Africa (across the Atlantic Ocean!).


  • This fossil is from an era where the Americas were water-locked: they had no land bridges or connections to other continents.


  • Ergo, the hoatzin had to navigate across the Atlantic to reach South America (or viceversa).


You know how they think it did it? A massive island of forest split off the continent and drifted across. By massive, think massive. Several miles across.


As always – here´s the paper: Hoatzins are no longer exclusively South American and once crossed an ocean.


And as usual, sign up for your free trial of the Amazoncam here and help us identify the Amazon wildlife that is on the photos taken by our 20 square kilometer grid of 78 cameras snapping away in the middle of the Amazon jungle. You can start practicing photo identification with our free illustrated plates of 172 Amazon Rainforest Animals. 

And of course, if you´re thinking (or even dreaming) of Amazon Travel, you can chat with the Amazon Travel experts right here. We will help you get there.


Topics: Rainforest animals, Tambopata wildlife, birds, hoatzin

Kurt Holle

Written by Kurt Holle

Kurt has been hanging out in tropical rainforests since he was eight and lived in Costa Rica. His first trip to Madre de Dios was in 1988 when he was twenty. Kurt immediately knew he was in a special place: he saw five different species of monkeys in the hike between the boat and his camp. He became a partner in Rainforest Expeditions in 1992 because it seemed like a fun way to make a living. And he was right! Nowadays he’s mostly a passive business partner. In 2016, Kurt was a proud member of the team that designed, implemented and launched the Wired Amazon.


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