Patagonia. The name conjures up exotic windswept plains, adventure, and danger. A by-word for a region as foreign as Timbuktu. This remote section of Argentina and Chile holds many mysteries. In the south, Tierra Del Fuego, the legendary land of fire, where Darwin and Fitzroy spent time mapping and theorising on the Beagle’s long voyage. To the north, the extensive pampas and fertile grassland. Patagonia is a hard land, now home only to a few species: the rhea, the puma, some rodents, occasional guanacos. How different things were in the Pleistocene! Then, Patagonia had giant sloths, hippidiform horses, macrauchenia, giant jaguars, sabretooth cats, short-faced bears, native foxes, giant rodents, and other extinct species. It was essentially a uniquely South American Serengeti: a fully functioning ecosystem with megafauna, mesofauna, and microfauna.
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