Lost Worlds T e tepuis have been like islands in the sky for millions of years. Imagine the strange things that might live on them. T at’s what a famous author named Arthur Conan Doyle did. In 1912, he wrote a book called “T e Lost World.” T e book was about dinosaurs that still roamed on top of a tepui. Doyle’s book was fiction, of course. But
the idea that tepuis could harbor odd and unknown creatures is true. In fact, new plants and animals are still being discovered on the tepuis. Many are endemic. T at means they aren’t found anywhere else in the world, even on other tepuis. A few years ago, for example, scientists
compared the reptiles and amphibians found on Auyantepui with ones they found on another, nearby tepui. Most were diff erent. Isolation has given each tepui its own unique ecosystem.
Meat-Eating Plants Forests cover the top of Auyantepui. T e landscape hops with endemic frogs, toads, and lizards. T ey come in black, red, green, and even polka dot. Colorful orchids and small trees survive there, too. Yet, in many places the soil is poor, with few nutrients. What is a plant to do for food? Eat meat, of course! Auyantepui is known for its carnivorous plants. Drosera arenicola is one such insect eater
that is endemic to Auyantepui. It has little tentacles that glitter with a sticky liquid. Insects think it’s dew. When they land on it, they get stuck. T en the tentacles close around them. Yum! T e plant digests the insects. Heliamphora minor is another meat-eater
on Auyantepui. It looks like a vase topped by a spoon. T e spoon has a sticky substance that lures insects, especially ants. Tiny hairs in the plant force an ant down into a pool of water. T e ant drowns. T en the plant slowly digests it. T is plant eats more than just insects. It digests frog poop, too. Frogs hide in the plant. What they leave behind, the plant digests.
14 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER
This tabletop mountain is one of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back over two billion years.
Tepui Trek Jimmie Angel saw far more of Auyantepui’s ecosystem than he intended to. T at’s because his plane got stuck in the muddy soil where he landed. He and his passengers had only one option to get home. T ey had to travel on foot. T ey trekked across Auyantepui and down into the jungle below. Finally, aſt er 12 days, they reached a town. Word of the fantastic waterfall soon spread.
Scientists and adventurers came to explore Angel Falls and the mysterious table-shaped mountain. Meanwhile, Angel’s plane stayed stuck for 33 years. In 1970, it was liſt ed off Auyantepui by helicopter. Angel Falls and Auyantepui are now part of
Canaima National Park. It takes visitors three days of canoeing and hiking to see Angel Falls from the bottom. A few explorers climb to the top. T ey follow
much the same route that Jimmie Angel did. T ey get to experience two natural wonders: Earth’s highest waterfall and the unusual world it tumbles from.
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