natgeo
Photos by @renan_ozturk / words by @m_synnott / The goal of the 2021 @natgeo  Lost World Expedition was an "elevational transect" of the Upper Paikwa River Basin, near Guyana’s northwestern frontier with Brazil and Venezuela, to look for new species of amphibians and reptiles in one of the world’s richest and least explored hotspots of biodiversity. The final section of our transect led us through a pristine, untouched cloud forest and culminated with a first ascent of a 7,000-foot tepui called Weiassipu.

The expedition was led by @dr_bruce_means , an intrepid 80-year-old ecologist and evolutionary biologist whose life’s work has been to catalog and document the unique flora and fauna of South America’s tepui region. Tepuis, which rise high above the rainforest like tabletop mesas, are made from some of the oldest rock on Earth, iron-hard, orange quartzite that is 1.6 to 1.8 billion years old. These “lost worlds” represent the last vestiges of an ancient plateau called the Guiana Shield, and their summits have been called “islands in the sky” for the endemic species that often occur only on a single mountaintop.

For more about why biodiversity matter and details on the new species of frogs discovered on this expedition (not pictured), stay tuned for a feature article in the magazine as well as a @natgeotv  episode directed by @taylorfreesolo  with myself.

For now, we’d like to thank the incredible team that worked tirelessly to document this story, including Alex Honnold, Federico Pisana, Matt Irving, Ryan Valasek, Rudy Lehfeldt Ehlinger, Brian Irwin, and most important, the team of Indigenous Akawaios who we’ll be telling you more about in our next post. #TheLostWorldExpedition #BiodiversityMatters