Animals of Costa Rica

Recently, you may have noticed my blog has been a little quieter than usual. The culprit: a family vacation to Costa Rica! Throughout the trip, we got to see a lot of the country including the Poàs and Arenal Volcanoes, the beaches of Guanacaste, and the Manuel Antonio National Park. As I visited these places, I was able to get some pretty good pictures of the wildlife that is native to Costa Rica.

And then I thought, why not share them with my readers? After all, who doesn’t love pictures of cute animals. So here are a few of my favorites from the trip, long with some interesting facts about them:

1. Bang’s Mountain Squirrel
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Though it may look like a typical squirrel, this is actually a Bang’s mountain squirrel, a unique species found only in Costa Rica and Panama. One of the best places to find them happens to be at the summit of the Poàs Volcano in Costa Rica, which is exactly where I found this one! What makes this squirrel different from your typical tree squirrel is the shape of its skull and its teeth. Thus, scientists have grouped this species separate from the common tree squirrels.

2. Great Curassow

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Meet the great curassow in all its glory. You can tell this one is a male due to its white underbelly and curly hairdo. As for the females, they typically sport one of three unique markings. The curassow is actually an ancient species that first inhabited South America about 9 million years ago. Then, around 6 million years ago a significant part of the population was eventually separated from the others by the formation of the Andes mountains in the north, and eventually evolved into what we now know as the great curassow. As for the southern birds, they would eventually develop into the blue-billed curassow.

3. White-faced Capuchin Monkey

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Awwww look how cute! Meet the white-faced Capuchin monkey. Fun fact: the Capuchin monkey gets its name from a group of friars known as the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. That’s because the 15th century explorers arriving in the Americas saw these monkeys and thought that their faces kind of looked like the faces of the Capuchin friars.

Capuchin monkeys are actually extremely intelligent, and seem to show some form of self-awareness. There’s even evidence suggesting that they even have a theory of mind. In other words, they can understand what another animal might know or think.

4. Howler Monkey

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This ugly-looking one is known as the Howler monkey. Their name refers to the characteristic howl made when communicating – which unfortunately for me, occurred at around 4:30 AM outside my hotel room. In fact, their howls are so loud that they are often heard up to 3 miles away, made possible by an enlargement of the hyoid bone in the neck. What also makes this monkey unique is that unlike other species, the females actually leave the group they’re born into, their “natal group”, to go live with unrelated monkeys. In most species of monkeys, the females tend to stick to the group they grew up with.

5. Scarlet Macaw
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A popular one at zoos, you probably have seen this bird before. In fact, humans have bred the scarlet macaw in captivity for a very long time, since about the 11th century. Outside of captivity, the scarlet macaw’s native habitat lies in the Amazon basin of South America, and extends all the way up to the southern parts of Mexico. Surprisingly, they have a pretty long lifespan, living for about 40-50 years in the wild and up to 75 in captivity. Like Howler monkeys, the scarlet macaw’s call is very loud, and designed to be heard from many miles away.

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