Anyone who grew up in the United States probably had to endure more than a few classes dedicated to the rainforests and protecting them. For that reason, you may be sick of hearing about them. But, get over it! The rainforests are amazing, and the Amazon is perhaps the most amazing of them all. Why is that? Well, it’s simple. There are things that you’ll encounter in the Amazon that you won’t encounter anywhere else in the world. What’s more is that there are things about this rainforest that you may have never learned, and once you know them, you may never look at the world the same way again. So, what are these amazing animals, plants, and facts? Let’s take a look.

1. The Jesus Lizard

No, we’re not talking about that band your hipster buddy in the thrash rock band enjoys, although we are talking about the animal from which that band derives its name. If you look at the picture above, we bet that you can figure out why these creatures have come to be known as Jesus lizards. That’s right! It is possible for these reptiles to literally walk (or, more accurately, run) on water. Although, they eventually have to swim… But, it’s cool while it lasts, right?

2. Hello, Darkness My Old Friend

In the lushest parts of the Amazon, the canopy is really thick. And, by really thick, we mean REALLY THICK. In fact, the canopy in these places can actually succeed in blocking out 99% of sunlight, leading to a very dark jungle floor where all kinds of interesting animals and plants thrive. This sun-blocking effect (which is, in truth, an absorbing effect) is perhaps the most important role the Amazon and other rainforests play in regulating the Earth’s temperature.

3. Sun Halos

Sometimes it’s not what’s actually going on in the Amazon; it’s what going on high up above it. The northern hemisphere may have its northern lights, but the Amazon has something known as sun halos. These rainbows, which form around the sun, are the result of sunlight interacting with the ice crystals floating around high up in the atmosphere. You won’t always see them when you’re down there, but you just might!

4. That’s A Big Rainforest!

The Amazon is absolutely enormous, a fact that’s hard to appreciate even when you’re looking at it on the map. How big is it? It covers just over 2.12 million square miles. That’s large enough to cover more than half the territory of the United States, which includes Alaska, Hawaii and other protectorates. For another comparison, the country of Australia only covers 2.97 million square miles.

5. Dynamite Trees

Like we mentioned, the Amazon is home to a variety of strange plants an animals. One of the strangest may be the dynamite tree, which is also known as a sandbox tree. What makes it so strange? In order for these trees to spread their seeds, they bear fruit. Now, instead of dropping to the forest floor when it becomes ripe, the fruit actually explodes, which sends seeds hurtling as far away as 150 feet.

6. Glass Frogs

If you spend enough time in the Amazon, you’re sure to so a diversity of frogs like you never imagined. Some of them are colorful, some camouflaged, and some are even incredibly poisonous. The coolest of them all, however, may be the glass frog, which has completely translucent skin, allowing you to look directly at its internal organs. Seriously, look at that thing up above, how cool is that?

7. Poison Dart Frogs

Amphibians are the coolest, aren’t they? Well, while you might want to get up close and personal with a glass frog to check out its heart, you’ll definitely want to stay away from these nasty little buggers. Sure, they’re brightly colored and interesting to look at, but just a simple touch could cause instant paralysis that will almost certainly lead to death. They don’t call them poison dart frogs for no reason, you know?

8. Candiru Fish

Poison dart frogs sound pretty bad, don’t they? Well, there just one of many dangerous animals that you’re likely to encounter in the Amazon. However, you have the advantage of being able to see the poison dart frog. The candiru fish? Not so much. These little buggers are incredibly tiny, and they’re vicious parasites. Do you know what they have a proclivity for? Human orifices, and we’re not talking about your mouth and your nostrils. We’re talking about… You get the picture.

9. The Bodele Depression

This is a list about the Amazon,” you say. “So, why are we talking about a stretch of desert located thousands of miles away in Chad?” you ask. Well, there’s simple reason. Transatlantic winds carry the sand and dust from the Bodele Depression all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and to the Amazon, fertilizing it. Were it not for this stretch of desert, the Amazon would likely not even exist.

10. Electric Eels

Danger! Danger! High voltage! When you touch… An electric eel! Although these creatures are called eels, they’re actually a species of knife fish. But, they look like eels, and swim like eels, so we’ll just call them eels! Aside from using its zapping power to attack the things that it wants to eat, it will also use its electricity to light up the water so that it can see where it’s going. Crazy little buggers, aren’t they?

11. Mysterious Plants

There’s a popular misconception these days that science has managed to pretty much figure out everything that there is to know about the world, and that explorers have discovered all that there is to explore. This isn’t the case. Consider the plants of the Amazon, which have been the source of nearly one-quarter of all of the drugs we use today. Over 99% of the Amazon’s plants have yet to fully studied and analyzed.

12. Uncontacted Tribe

The flip side of science and explorers having yet to find everything there is to find in the world is that there are still tribes of people that have not had contact with the outside world for centuries. A recent expedition to the Amazon uncovered one such tribe, which was photographed by airplane. Can you imagine what it must be like to live in the deepest parts of the Amazon, to have had no contact with modern technology, and to see a plane up in the sky? Mind blowing!

13. The Rio Hamza

Everyone knows about the Amazon River. In fact, we’ve discussed a lot of aspects about it thus far. But, did you know that there’s another river in the Amazon that’s as equally important. It’s called the Rio Hamza. Good luck trying to find it on a map, though. This river is actually completely underground, is much wider than the Amazon, and carries over forty times the amount of water than the Thames in England.

14. Anacondas

The anacondas that you may be familiar with are the kind that don’t want none if you ain’t got buns, hun. In the Amazon rainforest, specifically in the river that bears its name, anacondas are very real and can be very dangerous. These kind don’t care about the size of your posterior. Instead, they’re more interested in you a potential food source and can use their powerful muscles to literally squeeze the life out of you.

15. Pink Dolphins

What’s cuter than a regular dolphin? How about a pink dolphin, a fresh-water variant of the dolphins you’re familiar with, that lives in the Amazon River? Admittedly, you may not find these creatures as cute as the real deal, as they have humps on their backs instead of fins. But, they’re pink! So, that’s got to count for something, right? And, you may even find one that’s REALLY pink, if it’s one that inhabits the deeper waters of the Amazon River.