In Suriname there is a species of toad that looks like it has been flattened under a rock: it grows up to twenty centimetres long, but only reaches a couple of centimetres high.
There is a storm above the mouth of the Catatumbo River in Venezuela that produces endless lightning – and has been doing so consistently, year-round, for hundreds of years.
The largest national park in the European Union is in South America.
As part of Argentina’s Dirty War, hundreds of children were taken from their parents and adopted into military families. The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo are trying to get them back.
In 1958, surrealism, the Beat Generation, and a decade of civil war in Colombia distilled itself into the Nadaist movement – a rejection of Colombian government, literature, religion, and orthodoxy.
Around the world today, several languages have just one native speaker left. When they die, their language dies with them.
The Peruvian singer Yma Sumac had a vocal range of four or five octaves – far beyond most singers, and one of the widest ranges on record.
In late 1808, a colossal volcanic eruption disrupted weather around the world. It was one of the three biggest eruptions of the 19th century – but we don’t know where it happened.
Sailing around the end of South America, you steer around what you think is Cape Horn. But instead of open ocean there’s a surprise island dead ahead. You’re about to be shipwrecked thanks to the False Cape Horn.
NASA famously freeze-dried ice cream so that astronauts could enjoy it in space. But this method of food preparation actually dates back hundreds of years: the South American chuño, or freeze-dried potato, remains edible for decades.
The first criminal fingerprint bureau was set up in Argentina in 1892 by police chief Juan Vucetich. That year, an officer used Vucetich’s techniques to catch the first criminal to be found guilty because of fingerprint evidence.
In 1971 a plane was hit by lightning and crashed into the Amazon rainforest. Ninety-one people died, but one survived: Juliane Koepcke. She trekked through the forest for eleven days and made it out alive and well.