Interesting Jungle Facts

Here we have complied various interesting & fascinating facts about the rainforest & it's inhabitants. 

Where does the word 'Jungle' originate?

The word 'jungle' originates from the Sanskrit language (an ancient language of India) in which the Hindu scriptures and classical 
Indian epic poems are written. The meaning of the word 'jungala' is uncultivated land. Although the Sanskrit word refers to dry land, it has been suggested that Ango-Inian interpretation led to it's connotation as a dense ''tangled thicket''. While others have argued that a cognate word in Urdu did refer to forests. The term is prevalent in many languages of the Indian subcontinent, and Iranian plateau, particularly in Hindi and Persian. It is thought during the Indian warms the British adopted the name 'Jungle' when referring to forests or thick vegetation. 

How fast are the world's rainforests disappearing?

In 1950, about 15% of the earth's land surface was covered by rainforests. Today, more than half of the world's tropical rainforests have fallen victim to fire and the chain saw, and the rate of destruction is still accelerating. Unbelievably, more than 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day. That is more than 150 acres lost every minute of every day and 78 million acres lost every year! Rainforests are being destroyed because of the value of its timber by short-sighted governments, multi-national logging companies and land owners. When an acre of tropical rainforest is lost, the impact on the number of plant and animal species lost and their possible uses is staggering. Yet, the destruction continues. If deforestation continues at current rates, scientists estimate nearly 80 to 90% of tropical rainforest ecosystems will be destroyed by the year 2020. This destruction is the main force driving a species extinction rate unmatched in 65 million years!

Why is the floor of a virgin rainforest typically smooth and almost devoid of undergrowth?

Indeed on the forest floor, one can literally run unhindered beneath the tall shady canopies of the rainforest. This is because the fallen litter and dead materials of the raianforests are rapidly acted upon by a group of organisms called saprophytes. Saprophytes are the rainforest's very own decomposers which include microbes, insects, grubs, snails, slugs, beetles and ants. The microbes, such as the fungi called mycorrhizas, work extremely efficiently. Together with the warmth and humidity of the rainforests, decomposition can take place at an extraordinary speed; breaking down dead animals and vegetation within 24 hours. However decomposition in montane forests, which are colder and less humid, can sometimes take up to six weeks. This results in the  recycling of valuable nutrients from dead organic matter which are then released back in to the soil to be reabsorbed rapidlyy by plants and trees. 

What is a Cicada? 

A cicada is a type of insect with large eyes wide apart on the head and usual trensparent, well-veined wings. There are about 2,500 species worldwide & they live in temperate to tropical climates. In Sabah the people from the Kadazan/Dusun tribes call them 'Tongil'.

Why do Cicadas sing?

The high pitched song you hear as night falls in the rainforest is actually a mating call belted out by male cicadas. Each Species has it's own distinctive sound that only attracts females of its own kind. This allows several different species to co-exist. Cicadas are the only insect capable of producing such a loud unique sound. In addition to attracting a mate, the loud noise actually repels birds. The Cicadas song is painful to bird's ears and interferes with their communication, making it difficult for the birds to hunt in groups.  

In the insect kingdom, why are the males usually bigger in size than females?

Reproduction is certainly the main mechanism to guarantee that a species continues to survive for generations to come. During their lifetime all animals must find a mate and reproduce. In the insect world, the adult must either call or search for a mate. It is more usual for one sex to do the calling and the other to do the searching. Body size and shape seem to be the determining factor successful courtship in some insects. Large males generally experience greater success in aggressive competition to smaller ones. 

How does a flying squirrel fly?

Well, first of all , we need to establish that they don't really fly - they drift like a hang glider from a higher branch to a lower branch. The flying squirrel accomplishes this by using a fold of skin on each side of its body that's connected to its front and back legs. Leaping from a tree branch and stretching out its legs allows the folds of skin to become ''wings'' of sorts, but more like those of an airplane than an bird. A flying squirrel steers by using its flat , wide tail as a rudder and stabilizer. Its flight path begins with a sudden downward glide to pick up speed, then levels off , and finally makes a quick upward dart to slow down before landing. It's a skill that doesn't seem to require much practice; by the time they are six weeks old, young flying squirrels can fly on their own.