Hollow eye sockets glared at me from the dark tropical leaf litter. Not expecting to be watched from below, I rested on my haunches, searching with the image recognition software installed by my primate ancestors. Once sure there were no coils of a deadly fer-de-lance snake, I plunged my hand into the leaves. Out came the skull of Central America’s largest primate, a spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi). Immediately I could see that this animal hadn’t died of old age or sickness, it had been ruthlessly killed. Three holes pierced the top of the cranium, with a fourth puncture at the rear base of the skull. Holy crap! I was holding the skull of Costa Rica’s largest primate… killed by the greatest aerial rainforest predator on Earth – the harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja). Death was instantaneous the moment the monstrous bird smashed its prey. Talons greater than those of a grizzly bear shattered skull and pierced brain. But here was my predicament – this was January 2020, almost two decades since any photographic evidence of harpy eagles’ existence in the rainforests of the Osa Peninsula. Most believed that harpy eagles had been extirpated from the region, and harpies are not inconspicuous birds – they are vocal, inquisitive, and huge, standing over a meter tall with a two-meter wingspan. Add the fact that there are more tourists and guides coming to Osa than ever before (over 50,000 per year), all armed with cameras, cell phones, identification apps and telescopes – so how…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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