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Biological wonders

Harenna Forest
Harenna Forest. / Nina R, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue Described biological wonders

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WorldYellow What is included in this category?

Tiputini River
Tiputini River./ Michael Eisen, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This is a kind of super-category where are included all locations of the world with unusual living nature or, at least, traces of the former life. This super category includes the following categories:

  • Biological extremes – Biological landmarks with extreme parameters, e.g. world’s tallest tree, northernmost forest.
  • Ecosystems – Areas with unique, uniform environmental conditions and specific communities of life.
    • Animal colonies – Locations where gatherings of a large number of animals are permanent or regular.
  • Fossil finds – Places where are found remains or traces of life forms of outstanding value for science.
    • Early human finds – Locations where are found valuable remains or artifacts left by early hominins and humans.
  • Trees – The most impressive and interesting separate trees in the world.

WorldViolet Top 25 biological wonders


Denisova Cave

Russia, Altai Krai

This cave contains at least 125,000 years old artifacts left by ancient hominins. After a splinter of bone here has been identified new species of early humans – Denisova hominin or Denisovan.

Denisova Cave
Denisova Cave / Демин Алексей, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Callao Cave

Philippines, Cagayan

An enormous cave system with beautiful speleothems. There have been found the earliest human remains in the Philippines, at least 67 thousand years old. These remnants belong to an extinct species of humans – Homo luzonensis.

Sun shines in Callao Cave
Sun shines in Callao Cave. / Rawen Balmaña, Flickr / BY-SA 2.0
Kaas plateau


This plateau has an area of 1,000 ha area and is covered with millions of wildflowers from August to September. More than 850 species of plants grow here, some are endemic – met only here.

Flowers in Kaas Plateau / Tanmay Haldar, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Liang Bua

Indonesia, Lesser Sunda Islands

In the cave (and only here) there were discovered remnants of a newly discovered, extinct species of human – Homo floresiensis.

Liang Bua cave, Flores, Indonesia
Liang Bua cave, Flores, Indonesia / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0


Kairei hydrothermal vents

(central part of the Indian Ocean)

Group of hydrothermal vents with very high H² concentration. It is possible that the unique ecosystem around these vents closely resembles the ancient ecosystems (consisting mainly of microorganisms) that existed on Earth in the seas before the photosynthesis process started. This unique ecosystem exists due to specific geological conditions around the vents. Here lives also a unique gastropod with shells made of iron oxides.



Second largest coral atoll by land area in the world, with a unique ecosystem. Contains the world’s largest population of giant tortoises – 100,000 endemic Aldabra Giant Tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea) that dominate the ecosystem. Numerous other endemic species of animals and plants, including the flightless Aldabra rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri aldabranus).

Aldabra Atoll, coral formations
Aldabra Atoll, coral formations / Ron Van Oers, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
Table Mountain

South Africa

Flat-topped mountain surrounded by steep cliffs, approximately 3 kilometers long. Its plateau is covered with a spectacular scrubland with some 2,200 species of plants representing the smallest floral kingdom of the world – the Cape floral kingdom. Numerous endemic species.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Suth Africa
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Vallée de Mai (Vallee de Mai)


Relict of Gondwana, a natural palm forest with the endemic coco de mer palm (Lodoicea maldivica) grove and five other endemic palms. Coco de mer grows up to 34 m tall and has the largest seeds in the plant kingdom – up to 42 kg heavy nuts. Many other endemic species of plants and animals, numerous vanilla orchids.

Vallée de Mai, Seychelles
Vallée de Mai / Reed Wiedower, / CC BY-SA 2.0
Ngorongoro Crater


The largest volcanic caldera in the world, up to 610 m deep and 260 km² large. Area of an exceptional concentration of wild animals, with 25,000 large animals living in the crater.

Antarctica and Subantarctic islands

Blood Falls


Unusual natural feature – an outflow of hypersaline water, seeping through the ice, tainted with iron oxides in blood color. This approximately 15 m tall fall provides insight into a unique ecosystem that has been isolated from the outside world for 1.5 million years.

Blood Falls from above, Antarctica
Blood Falls from above / Peter Rejcek, National Science Foundation (United States Antarctic Program), public domain
Bird Island

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (United Kingdom)

One of the richest wildlife sites in the world. The size of this island is just 400 ha but here live 50,000 pairs of penguins, 14,000 pairs of albatrosses, 700,000 petrels, and 65,000 breeding pairs of Antarctic fur seals.

Australia and Oceania

Lord Howe Island


This remote, 56 km² large Australian island has its own ecoregion where half of the plants and some birds and other animals are endemic. Unique characteristics are diverse glowing mushrooms in the forest, some bright enough to be used for reading at night. Endemic kentia palms are popular, beautiful houseplants.

Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island / David Stanley, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
Jellyfish Lake (Ongeim’l Tketau)


A unique marine lake with an area of 5.0 ha, has an underground connection to the sea. Stratified in two layers that do not mix. Isolated from the sea for 12,000 years and contains a distinct population of two species of jellyfish – endemic Mastigias cf. papua etpisoni and most likely endemic Aurelia sp. Millions of these jellyfishes make strict daily migration around the lake. Four more marine lakes with jellyfish on the nearby islands but Jellyfish Lake is the only one open to tourists. The number of jellyfish has reached up to 31 million (January 2005), currently some 5 million.

Jellyfish Lake from air with swarms of jellyfish visible, Palau
Jellyfish Lake from air with swarms of jellyfish visible / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Christmas Island crab forest

Christmas Island (Australia)

The forest of Christmas Island is unique in the world due to the dominant species – some 50 – 100 million red crabs (Gecarcoidea natalis) – clearing the forest floor of leaves and other organic matter. These crabs are endemic to Christmas Island. Once per year, they migrate to the sea to lay their eggs, on the way blocking the roads and paths.

Red Crabs during the migration, Christmas Island
Red Crabs during the migration, Christmas Island / , Parks Australia
Ecosystem of Henderson Island

Pitcairn Islands (United Kingdom)

The only forested atoll with an intact ecosystem in the world. Endemic species – 9 species of plants and all 4 species of land birds. Numerous invertebrates are endemic, although they are poorly researched. The island is not walkable – it is covered with thicket and rugged limestone peaks.

Shore of Henderson Island
Shore of Henderson Island / A.K.Kepler, Pacific Biodiversity Information Forum. Public domain
The Daintree Rainforest


Scenically beautiful rainforest in Australia with very high biological diversity. This forest contains unique, primitive flowering plants that survived the dry climatic periods in smaller areas of climatic refuge.

Daintree Rainforest
Daintree Rainforest. / Cory Doctorow, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

North America

General Sherman tree

United States

Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), the largest tree in the world by volume. Volume 1,487 m3. Height 83.8 m, girth at the breast height 25.9 m. Believed to be 2,300 – 2,700 years old.

Giant Forest with General Sherman tree - the largest tree in the world in the centre
Giant Forest with General Sherman tree – the largest tree in the world in the centre. Note the people at the base of the tree. / Famartin, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Giant Forest

United States

Unique forest with stands of giant sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) – the largest trees in the world. This is the easiest to access sequoia grove but also contains the largest trees – five of the ten largest trees on Earth are located in this grove. Area – 7.6 km2. In California are located several more notable groves of these giant trees.

Giant Forest, California
Giant Forest, California / Davigoli, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

United States

Grove of Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva), contains the oldest known individual trees in the world, more than 4,750 years old.

Grove of very old Great Basin bristlecone pines, California
Grove of very old Great Basin bristlecone pines, California / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
General Grant Tree

United States

Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum (Lindl.)), the second largest tree in the world. Height 81.5 m, girth at breast height 27.8 m, volume 1,320 m3. This beautiful tree is declared as a National Shrine, a memorial to those who died in the war.

General Grant Tree sometimes around 1936
General Grant Tree sometimes around 1936 / George A. Grant, / public domain
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve


Wintering habitats of the monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Some trees are covered with a thick layer of millions of butterflies.

Wintering of monarch butterflies near Angangueo
Wintering of monarch butterflies near Angangueo. / Rafael Saldaña, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Bracken Bat Cave

United States

Largest bat colony and the largest colony of mammals in the world. In the cave are living some 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis).

Bracken Bat Cave, Texas, United States
Bracken Bat Cave, Texas, United States / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

South America

Caño Cristales


A unique river. Its bottom is covered with the endemic Macarenia clavigera plants. From late July to November these plants turn bright red. Then this colorful river is one of the most spectacular sights in Colombia.

Caño Cristales with waterfall and the red Macarenia clavigera, Colombia. September 2012
Caño Cristales with waterfall and the red Macarenia clavigera. September 2012 / Mario Carvajal, / CC BY-SA 3.0
Forest on Robinson Crusoe Island


Temperate forest with a unique level of endemism – out of 211 local plant species 132 are endemic – e.g. met only on this island. The dense forest is formed from trees that are not met anywhere else. Hundreds of endemic species of insects.

Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Bautista village in the forefront
Robinson Crusoe Island, San Juan Bautista village in the forefront / Serpentus, / CC BY-SA 3.0
Yasuni Forest


Possibly the most biodiverse area in the world. In this rainforest, the diversity of reptiles, amphibians, freshwater fishes, birds, mammals, and vascular plants (with 2,700 – 4,000 species of plants per hectare) reaches their maximum for Western Hemisphere and often – world. Uncontacted tribes live in the forest. Endangered and affected by oil extraction.

The mysterious Yasuni forest, Ecuador
The mysterious Yasuni forest / Ricardo Patiño, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldYellow Recommended books

Atlas of Ocean Adventures

A natural history lesson in an adventure book, each spread features 10 captions and facts about every destination. The 5th title in the best-selling Atlas of Adventures series has now been translated into 31 languages.

The Wonder Book of Plant Life

Fabre is one of the glories of the civilized world… one of the most profound admirations of my life. – Maurice Maeterlinck.

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