Some animals the team discovered were unexpected, like this prehistoric monster fish (Thalassophryne amazonica). This species was previously unknown at the study site – even by local fishermen they spoke with.
Camouflaged on the sandy bottom of an Amazonian stream, this venomous predator partially buries itself and patiently waits for smaller fish to swim by. It has tiny eyes and a large mouth, characteristic of toadfish (the larger group of mostly marine fish to which this species belongs). In fact, across the Peruvian Amazon this species is known as “peje sapo,” which means frog fish.
Prehistoric monster fish are rare, and populations are threatened by the aquarium trade and ornamental fish market.
In addition to surveying fish, researchers have also set up acoustic monitoring and camera traps to capture sounds and photos of animals on land. In May, another team will begin to look at how different species use canopy bridges high up in the trees.
Collectively, these projects will help build a picture of the animals that live in this understudied area of the Peruvian Amazon. Scientists and local communities can then work together to monitor for changes, look at how human activities impact wildlife and develop conservation strategies.