Eco-Facts

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Below is the new and improved version of Pacha’s Fun Facts. Download and/or print.

Who is Pachamama?

  • Pachamama is a goddess respected by the indigenous (native) peoples of the South American Andean mountains. Pachamama usually means “Mother Earth.” In the language of Aymara and Quechua, mama means mother and pacha means world, land or the cosmos.
  • Pachamama and her father, Inti, are some of the most important gods from the Incan Empire, which stretched from present-day Peru through Ecuador and Chile to Argentina. In Incan mythology, Mama Pacha or Pachamama is a fertility goddess who watches over planting and harvesting. She can cause earthquakes and great change.

What are whale songs?

  • You may not understand the lyrics to the whales’ songs, but they are singing in their own way! Whales use sound and calling to communicate.
  • The whale belly is a special place for hearing and feeling the music of the ocean. Whales also can send a call, or song, around the entire planet’s ocean and can connect directly to another whale on the other side of the world!
  • Whales also use sound and calling to “see.” This is called echolocation. The sounds bounce off other objects or animals to tell the whale the shape, distance and texture of its surroundings.

Are hummingbirds magical?

  • Hummingbirds can dive at 60 miles per hour—that’s as fast as a car driving on the freeway!
  • Hummingbird wings beat so quickly that they make a humming sound.
  • To keep up their energy, hummingbirds need to eat every 15 to 20 minutes, feeding off hundreds of flowers per day by drinking their nectar. Then they pollinate the next flower they visit (spreading pollen to help flowering plants produce seeds).
  • Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards, forwards, up, down and sideways, and even float in the air!
  • Legends say the hummingbird is a messenger between worlds, spreading joy, healing and sweetness during times of great change. In many cultures, hummingbird feathers are prized for their magical powers.

What’s special about the jaguar?

  • Jaguar is a predator that plays a key role in keeping an ecosystem in  balance.
  • Quick and agile (flexible) the jaguar is the largest of the big cats in the Americas (North, Central and South)!
  • The jaguar is a powerful and beautiful animal found in habitats ranging from desert to rainforest, such as swampland and flooded forests, but is threatened by hunting and habitat loss.
  • The jaguar is respected in traditional cultures for its spotted coat, and stories have told of its skin magically forming the heavens and stars or by the jaguar putting mud on its body with its paws!

What is an ecosystem?

  • An ecosystem is a set of relationships between the living and non-living things in a place. It could include clouds, trees, plants, animals, fish, birds, rocks, water, dirt, people and stuff you can’t even see—like the air. Take trees and bushes, for example. They create oxygen that humans and animals use to breathe.
  • Ecosystems can vary greatly in size, shape and form, like a weather pattern in Russia or a rainforest in Brazil.
  • Amazingly, each ecosystem is connected and depends on all the other  parts in nature to survive. If one part of an ecosystem is hurt or disappears, it can affect everything else.
  • There is a theory (idea) in science that says when a butterfly flaps its wings, it can change the wind, which can then change the weather. This is called the butterfly effect. What if a butterfly could change the world?

Can big things come from small pebbles?

  • Pebbles may be small, but they’re hugely important! Pebble tools are some of the earliest known man-made artifacts, dating from the Paleolithic period (hundreds of thousands of years ago).
  • Pebbles show the story of the local geology (rocks) of a place and are actually tiny versions of large mountains.

How amazing are mushrooms?

  • Mushrooms are part of the fungi family and were among the very first living things to move onto land from the ocean! They came on land 1.3 billion years ago, while leafy plants didn’t arrive until 600 million years later.
  • Can you say “mycoremediation” (my-co-re-midi-ay-shun)? It is a system in which mushroom roots, called mycelium, break down and clear contamination (like pollution) of all kinds, like heavy metals, plastics and chemicals, from the environment. In fact, some mushrooms actually can help turn plastic into soil.
  • One of the largest living things on the planet is the “honey” mushroom that has been growing in Oregon for 2,400 years and spreads over 2,200 acres. That is the size of 1,665 football fields!

Have you ever heard a tree talking?

  • They may not have a mouth like you do, but some trees actually “talk” to each other. When a willow tree is attacked by caterpillars or webworms, it lets off a natural chemical that warns other trees nearby of danger. The other trees then start pumping a chemical called tannin into their leaves, making it difficult for insects to swallow the leaves.
  • Trees also can bring on the rain—they cool the land by drinking water through their roots and then release that water (transpiration) into the sky through the miniature openings in their leaves.
  • Did you know that one fully grown, leafy tree can provide enough oxygen for 10 people to breathe for a whole year?!

How do you relate to your relations?

  • When the indigenous (native) peoples of the world pray and speak for “All My Relations” (Mitayuke Oyasin in the Lakota language), they are talking about not only our human relatives, but also the spirits of plants, rocks, animals—and even natural forces.
  • How would your relationship with the world around you be changed if you saw ALL things as your own mother, father, brother, sister or even yourself? What if you knew that all things that live are supporting one another? This is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said, “Before you finish eating breakfast this morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world.” In other words, each bite we eat, each item of clothing we wear, each breath we take, is a gift from our relations.