HJ/EDJuly 10, 2006

College student studies biology in Peru

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Not many college students have the opportunity to walk among the animals and rain forests of Peru, like DC graduate Andy Bohnsack did last month.

Bohnsack graduated in April from Concordia College Moorhead before studying abroad for three weeks in Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for a May biology seminar.

The seminar focused on a variety of plants, animals, geology and climates of South America.

While in Peru, Bohnsack and his class got to see the ancient Incan ruins and Machu Picchu, “The Lost City of the Incas.”

According to Bohnsack, this lost city was uncovered by an American biologist in 1911 and is said to be hundreds of years old.

This self-sufficient community of about 1,000 people was abandoned before the Spanish made it that far into Peru, therefore no one knew about it except the locals, Bohnsack explained.

Bohnsack explained the culture of Peru is civilized in the larger cities but in the country there are self-sufficient families washing clothes in the rivers, farming plats of corn, and making clothes out of Alpacas.

His class rode canoes miles and hiked through muddy trails to get to the Amazon Rain Forest.

“It was worth it once we got there,” Bohnsack said.

They learned the history of the rain forest with trees more than 3,000 years old and its various species.

Next, the class rode a boat to the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin, known to be the father of biology, heavily studied the various species of the Galapagos Islands and how they differed from other climates.

They studied how animals arrived on the islands, 600 miles from the shores of Ecuador.

“No one knows for sure how they got there,” Bohnsack said.

The islands are known for their giant land tortoises which can’t swim, they only float.

The class got to see the very things they had been taught firsthand, Bohnsack said.

“It was amazing to think we walked the same sand as Charles Darwin.”

Where he traveled there was such a diversity in the animal and plant life, even with the climates, Bohnsack explained.

“I saw a greater diversity in 10 minutes of Ecuador than I’ve ever seen in all my family trips around the US,” he said.

Bohnsack graduated with a biology degree and is planning to attend dental school at the University of Minnesota.

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