There are many discoveries in the Amazon rainforest from different branches of science. Because the Amazon rainforest still keeps its original ecosystem features (when compared with all other ecosystems in the planet), natural sciences researches in that region can be very effective and discover important things, not only about the Amazon rainforest or its past, but for the whole world.
For biologists there are new discoveries every time they go to the field, new plants, new flowers, new insects and new interactions between the living beings. So it’s a paradise for biological researchers. These researchers are also very important to help us understand the negative impacts of the human activities in the Amazon rainforest and thus provide solutions to prevent the extinction of the species.
For anthropologists the Amazon rainforest is a unique place to research the indigenous culture and life style. Also, the region is important to understand how the humans arrived in the Americas , around 100,000 years ago. Since many tribes remain separated from the outside world, they have a unique genetic history. Researchers are able to trace back many thousands of years when the first colonizers of the Americas split into different groups.
The other branch of science that is usually forgotten when people think about the Amazon rainforest is paleontology. Although paleontologists have a hard time discovering fossils in the Amazon rainforest (there are trees everywhere!), they do find new fossils every so often. Some dinosaurs used to live only in that region and help to describe the evolution of species through the planet history.
Currently there’s a push to understand the genetics and use of all seeds, plants and organisms living in the Amazon rainforest. Actually, this urge has spread all over the world, as the Amazon rainforest is the most obvious place to conduct research, combining the biggest biological diversity of the planet and a lot of traditional knowledge that gives crucial clues on what to look for and where. Several pharmaceutical discoveries that led to the development of new medicines came from plants and seeds from the Amazon rainforest. Usually the researches “discover” the medicinal effects of some plants by interviewing indigenous or local populations about herbs that they used for centuries. An indigenous healer has an astonishing amount of information about plants and its leaves, roots, flowers and fruits. The healer knows how to use them alone or mixed to have the proper healing effects.
Of course many of those don’t have any real effect and work like placebos, but many actually relieve symptoms, from headache healing to wound cicatrisation and stomach infections. The interviews with indigenous and local population gives the researchers the clues they need to be more effective. Imagine taking a plant and testing all the possible effects they could have for every health problem known? It’s not very efficient, but if the researcher already knows that the plant he is studying may have an effect on cicatrisation, it will be much easier to test and learn what substance in that plant produces the effect. This way the local knowledge that came from the ancient oral tradition and passed from father to son for centuries enters the scientific world where it is treated like any other knowledge.
Nowadays there are researches scouring the Amazon rainforest plants for cures to many different health problems like cancer, problems related to internal organs like heart or lungs and many other diseases. It’s not guaranteed the researches will find something useful, or something useful in a short period of time , but the diversity is so huge that many specialists are very optimistic about it.