Natural History News

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The sites of pure biodiversity found in the tropical Bijagós archipelago remain pristine today thanks to the local tribe's history of preservation and respect for nature.

In fact, despite the regional industrial threats, on the majority of the 88 islands — only 23 of which are inhabited — the ethnic Bijagós people have maintained land-based values in their religion.

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Pilgrims once flocked to the Egyptian island of Philae, coming from all over the ancient world to worship Isis, a goddess who is commemorated with a massive temple that was re-erected from beneath the Nile River. Isis was mysterious to most who worshipped her, but was believed to have healing powers for those who sought her counsel.

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Adventurers will find a wealth of exciting and mysterious artifacts on the path to the Incan city of Machu Picchu, and many of those are found in the great Urubamba Valley. Also known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Urubamba Valley is a stronghold of Inca culture that offers those who travel to Machu Picchu a glimpse of what life for these ancient peoples must have been like.

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The simple temple behind the Church of St. George is a must-see in Cairo before embarking on a Nile cruise or other explorations of Egypt. The Ben Ezra Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Egypt, located on a site that has been holy to the Jews as long as they have been in Egypt. In fact, it is said to be where Moses was found in the reeds.

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There is a reason the sparkling shoreline of Turkey is called the Turquoise Coast. Not because of any abundance of a certain mineral, but rather for the bright green-blue of its Aegean and Mediterranean waters. However, an even more apt name for the area may be something that pays homage to its historical roots, as everything in the region — from its cliffs to its bays — is steeped in the history and culture of the Lycians, an ancient group of people who made history for their peaceful democratic societies and institutions.

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Although many people visit the region for a Kenya and Tanzania safari, the lakes of Kenya have gotten more attention in the news lately. Lake Elementaita, Lake Bogoria and Lake Nakuru were named UNESCO World Heritage Sites in June.

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Though sites like Machu Picchu, the Great Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge may differ from one another in several ways, they are all bound by at least one similarity — distinction as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The prestigious title reflects these locations' unique positions as arbiters of the local culture and as a commanding physical significance for the area in which it is found.

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A new species of fungi was recently discovered in the forests of Borneo. Those who travel to Borneo should keep their eyes peeled for a bright orange sponge that vaguely resembles the Nickelodeon character Spongebob Squarepants.

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The island of Elephanta offers the epitome of Hindu cave culture and nature travel. Even its name refers to the rock art practiced by people as far back as the 6th century. When Portugese navigators landed on the island, they found a massive stone elephant commonly called Gharapuri, which is an alternate name for the island, according to UNESCO.

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The Sambas stream toad, also known as the Bornean rainbow toad, as spent years on the Conservation International list of “Most Wanted Lost Frogs,” and many feared this colorful species was extinct. In fact, it had been so long since scientists had spotted these spindly legged creatures — 1924 was the last known sighting — that only illustrations of the toads existed. That was until June 13, 2011, when scientists spotted three Bornean rainbow toads on a night search in the remote Sarawak region.

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