Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sherri. Sherri Wonders, “What is the difference between a rainforest and a jungle?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sherri!

Do you have vivid dreams at night? We often have exciting dreams…at least we think we do. After we wake up, we usually can't remember much about our dreams.

We do remember a dream we had the other night, though. We were lost in a sea of weeds and vines. The cries of monkeys and parrots echoed all around us. We tried to use a machete to hack our way to freedom, but the thick vines wrapped around our legs…and then we woke up!

Thick vines…weeds…monkeys…parrots…we must have been in a jungle! Although most of us have never been in a real jungle, we know all about them from books we've read and movies we've seen.

But what exactly is a jungle? A jungle is a type of forest. Every jungle is a forest, but not every forest is a jungle. Jungles are very specific types of dense forests that are part of the tropical rainforest ecosystem.

Tropical rainforests and jungles aren't exactly the same thing, though. True rainforests have an extremely thick tree canopy that blocks most sunlight from reaching the ground. As a result, there are few trees and relatively little undergrowth at ground level in a rainforest. This makes it easier to walk through a rainforest than a jungle.

In contrast, a jungle features nearly-impenetrable vegetation at ground level. The tree canopy in a jungle is much thinner, allowing plenty of light to reach the ground.

This light, combined with the warm temperatures and rainfall characteristic of the tropics, allows vines, grasses, flowers, shrubs, mosses, and all sorts of other plants and vegetation to thrive. Within rainforests, you'll often find jungle areas along the edges of rivers or in areas where trees have fallen.

Many different types of insects and animals call jungles home. Exotic animals such as snakes, monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees, macaws, parrots, crocodiles, and big cats can be found in the world's jungles.

The variety of plant and animal life in jungles is truly astounding. Experts believe jungles contain more species of plants, insects, and animals per acre than anywhere else on Earth. In fact, jungles are home to more than half the plant and animal species on the planet.

Given the conditions necessary to form jungles, it's no surprise that they tend to form in tropical areas, especially near the equator. Most jungles can be found in Central America, northern South America, western Africa, and Southeast Asia.

If you want to visit the world's largest jungle, you'll need to head to South America. The jungle areas of the Amazon rainforest are some of the wildest, densest jungle areas on Earth. They're also home to the greatest variety of plant and animal species found anywhere!

Wonder What's Next?

We believe you’ll find tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day especially a-PEEL-ing!