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The Weird and Wonderful Animals of South America

Discover more on how South America is home to some of the most fascinating and biologically diverse ecosystems in the world.

Baird's Tapir seen in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | Photo by Miguel Vieira

South America is home to some of the most fascinating and biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. So, it should come as no surprise that it is also home to some pretty crazy critters. From an armadillo the size of your hand to a large Amazonian mammal whose closest living relative is the elephant, the animals of South America are a fascinating mix of creatures.

The Pink Fairy Armadillo is the smallest species of armadillo in the world, reaching a maximum length of only about 5 inches. The armadillo is found only in central Argentina, where it spends most of its time burrowing underground in the sandy soil of Argentina’s central plains.

On the other end of the size spectrum, there is Baird’s Tapir, the largest land mammal in Central America. Baird’s Tapir is one of three Tapir species living in Latin America, and resembles a large pig with a prehensile snout like that of its close relative the elephant.