At a glance, the tangled jade canopy of a rainforest may seem like an impenetrable mass of green. But take a closer look, and you’ll find yourself tumbling down a bottomless well of life – these lush ecosystems are absolutely teeming with an unbelievable diversity of plants and animals. Here are just a few mind-boggling facts about the biodiversity found in tropical rainforests around the world:

Tree Tree Crazy While rainforests cover just 6% of the Earth’s land surface, they are home to over half of the world’s plant and animal species. A single hectare (2.5 acres) of rainforest may be home to over 750 types of trees – that’s more tree species than in the entire continent of North America! The Amazon rainforest alone is estimated to have 16,000 different tree species.

Insect Insanity When it comes to insects, nowhere beats the rainforest for sheer variety and abundance. Scientists estimate that there may be as many as 30 million different species of tropical insects, many yet to be discovered or categorized. In just one rainforest reserve in Panama, entomologists have found over 1,200 different species of butterflies – nearly double the number found in the entire United States.

Masters of Mimicry With such rich biodiversity concentrated in one ecosystem, many rainforest species have evolved fascinating mimicry abilities. Some harmless species mimic the colors and patterns of toxic ones to avoid predators. Others have evolved to mimic completely unrelated species – such as insects that evolved to resemble fallen leaves or twigs to camouflage themselves.

Medicine Cabinets At least one quarter of all modern pharmaceutical drugs are derived from rainforest plants and organisms. Many of these substances are used to treat cancer, malaria, heart disease, and other illnesses. With only a tiny fraction of species catalogued, rainforests may hold cures for diseases we’ve yet to identify.

Sadly, human activity is decimating these incredible biological hotspots at an alarming rate. Over 80,000 acres of rainforest disappear each day due to deforestation, agriculture, and development. According to scientists, we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest destruction – a rate of extinction rivaling the catastrophic disappearance of the dinosaurs. It’s a sobering statistic, and a reminder that these vibrant ecosystems are truly irreplaceable jewels of the natural world.