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Amazon River

The Amazon River in South America is the largest river by discharge volume of water in the world, by most accepted definitions it is the second longest river in the world, after the Nile River. The headwaters of the Apurímac River on Nevado Mismi had been considered for nearly a century as the Amazon's most distant source, until a 2014 study found it to be the headwaters of the Mantaro River on the Cordillera Rumi Cruz in Peru; the Mantaro and Apurímac join, with other tributaries form the Ucayali River, which in turn meets the Marañón River upstream of Iquitos, Peru, to form what countries other than Brazil consider to be the main stem of the Amazon. Brazilians call this section the Solimões River above its confluence with the Rio Negro to form what Brazilians call the Amazon at the Meeting of Waters at Manaus, the largest city on the river. At an average discharge of about 209,000 cubic metres per second —approximately 6,591 cubic kilometres per annum, greater than the next seven largest independent rivers combined—the Amazon represents 20% of the global riverine discharge to the ocean.

The Amazon basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, with an area of 7,050,000 square kilometres. The portion of the river's drainage basin in Brazil alone is larger than any other river's basin; the Amazon enters Brazil with only one-fifth of the flow it discharges into the Atlantic Ocean, yet has a greater flow at this point than the discharge of any other river. The Amazon was known by Europeans as the Marañón, the Peruvian part of the river is still known by that name today, it became known as Rio Amazonas in Spanish and Portuguese, Amazon River in English. The name Rio Amazonas was given after native warriors attacked a 16th-century expedition by Francisco de Orellana; the warriors were led by women, reminding de Orellana of the Amazon warriors, a tribe of women warriors related to Iranian Scythians and Sarmatians mentioned in Greek mythology. The word Amazon itself may be derived from the Iranian compound *ha-maz-an- " fighting together" or ethnonym *ha-mazan- "warriors", a word attested indirectly through a derivation, a denominal verb in Hesychius of Alexandria's gloss "ἁμαζακάραν· πολεμεῖν.

Πέρσαι", where it appears together with the Indo-Iranian root *kar- "make". During what many archaeologists call the formative stage, Amazonian societies were involved in the emergence of South America's highland agrarian systems; the trade with Andean civilisations in the terrains of the headwaters in the Andes formed an essential contribution to the social and religious development of the higher altitude civilisations of among others the Muisca and Incas. Early human settlements were based on low-lying hills or mounds. Shell mounds were the earliest evidence of habitation, they are associated with ceramic age cultures. Artificial earth platforms for entire villages are the second type of mounds, they are best represented by the Marajoara culture. Figurative mounds are the most recent types of occupation. There is ample evidence that the areas surrounding the Amazon River were home to complex and large-scale indigenous societies chiefdoms who developed towns and cities. Archaeologists estimate that by the time the Spanish conquistador De Orellana traveled across the Amazon in 1541, more than 3 million indigenous people lived around the Amazon.

These pre-Columbian settlements created developed civilizations. For instance, pre-Columbian indigenous people on the island of Marajó may have developed social stratification and supported a population of 100,000 people. In order to achieve this level of development, the indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon rainforest altered the forest's ecology by selective cultivation and the use of fire. Scientists argue that by burning areas of the forest repetitiously, the indigenous people caused the soil to become richer in nutrients; this created dark soil areas known as terra preta de índio. Because of the terra preta, indigenous communities were able to make land fertile and thus sustainable for the large-scale agriculture needed to support their large populations and complex social structures. Further research has hypothesized; some say that its effects on forest ecology and regional climate explain the otherwise inexplicable band of lower rainfall through the Amazon basin. Many indigenous tribes engaged in constant warfare.

James Stuart Olson wrote: "The Munduruku expansion dislocated and displaced the Kawahíb, breaking the tribe down into much smaller groups... first came to the attention of Europeans in 1770 when they began a series of widespread attacks on Brazilian settlements along the Amazon River." In March 1500, Spanish conquistador Vicente Yáñez Pinzón was the first documented European to sail up the Amazon River. Pinzón called the stream Río Santa María del Mar Dulce shortened to Mar Dulce sweet sea, because of its fresh water pushing out into the ocean. Another Spanish explorer, Francisco de Orellana, was the first European to travel from the origins of the upstream river basins, situated in the Andes, to the mouth of the river. In this journey, Orellana baptised some of the affluents of the Amazonas like Rio Negro and Jurua. Gonzalo Pizarro set off in 1541 to explore east of Quito into the South American interior in searc

Western banded snake eagle

The western banded snake eagle is a grey-brown African raptor with a short tail and a large head. Juveniles have paler and browner upper parts with white-edged feathers. Head and breast are dark-streaked; the underparts are white with pale brown streaks on belly and thighs. Subadults may be all dark grey-brown without any streak on underparts; the eyes and legs are yellow. They have crested chests. Western banded snake eagles live in woodlands along rivers, but they avoid dense forests. Western banded snake eagles hunt snakes, but other small vertebrates, ambushing from a perch, they drop from the perch to foliage or ground. They are solitary birds, secretive. Due to their sedentary lifestyle, they are detected only by their calls; the western banded snake eagle sometimes rises to soar. They utter a loud, high-pitched'kok-kok-kok-kok-kok', they are found in Africa in the northern tropics from Senegal and Gambia east through to Ethiopia and south to southern Angola and Zimbabwe west of the Rift Valley, but are absent from the western lowland equatorial forests.

They inhabit forest edges. This is an uncommon bird, difficult to spot, its distribution is patchy and it is vulnerable to loss of its riverine habitat. It feeds on reptiles and amphibians which it captures either on the ground or in trees; the western banded snake eagle nests among creepers and foliage, making a new nest every year. It builds a small stick-nest, well concealed within vegetation; the female lays only one egg. Incubation may last between 35 and 55 days by the female; the young fledge from the nest after 10 to 15 weeks. Bouglouan, Nicole. "Western Banded Snake Eagle." Http://www.oiseaux.net. 2 July 2008. Ecopains d'abord. 25 February 2008 <http://www.oiseaux.net/birds/western.banded.snake-eagle.html>. Sinclair and Phil Hockey; the Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Princeton University Press, 24 July 1995. Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds

Funastrum cynanchoides

Funastrum cynanchoides, fringed twinevine, twining milkweed or climbing milkweed, is a perennial plant in the family Apocynaceae that grows twining through other plants in the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert. It smells pungent, it is similar to Funastrum hirtellum. It grows at the edge of desert dry washes below 2,000' in the eastern Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert, it is a twining vine-like plant. In urban areas the vine climbs on plants, trees, as well as having a preference for chain link fencing in neglected areas, its narrow, arrowhead shaped leaves are 1" to 1 1/2" long. Flowers are pink to purplish, are produced in umbrella-like heads. Flowers are visited and fed on by butterflies, similar to other milkweeds, it has a fruit, 3" to 4" long, with tufted seeds about 1.4" long. Calflora Database: Funastrum cynanchoides USDA Plants Profile for Funastrum cynanchoides