As vast as it is spec­tac­u­larly var­ied, Asia is home to an in­cred­i­ble di­ver­sity of life.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - SEVEN WORLDS | ONE PALNET -

Cov­er­ing about 30 per cent of the world’s land sur­face, Asia is by far the largest of the con­ti­nents. From east to west, it stretches across 11 time zones, and from north to south it en­cap­su­lates wildlife habi­tats as di­verse as the Arc­tic tun­dra, the forested taiga, vast ar­eas of steppe, high moun­tain chains, trop­i­cal forests, man­groves and co­ral reefs. It is a con­ti­nent of wide-open spa­ces and ex­tremes of weather and cli­mate.

Asia’s most northerly point is Cape Fligely on Ru­dolf Is­land in the

Arc­tic Ocean. It is only 911km from the North Pole. At this lat­i­tude the air tem­per­a­ture reg­u­larly drops be­low –50°C and, on the main­land to the east, the town of Oymyakon once ex­pe­ri­enced –67.7°C, the cold­est of­fi­cial tem­per­a­ture in the North­ern Hemi­sphere, although a mon­u­ment in the town square claims a tem­per­a­ture of –71.2°C in 1924.

By con­trast, un­usu­ally high tem­per­a­tures of 54°C have been recorded in Kuwait and Pak­istan in 2016 and 2017, the high­est air tem­per­a­tures on con­ti­nen­tal Asia, with satel­lite ob­ser­va­tions record­ing even hot­ter ground tem­per­a­tures in the deserts of south­west Asia. The record holder cur­rently is the Lut Desert of Iran, where a ground tem­per­a­ture of 70.7°C has been re­ported.

From desert to ice­box

The wettest place on Earth is also in Asia. Mawsyn­ram in trop­i­cal In­dia has an av­er­age an­nual rain­fall of 11,871mm (com­pared to 4,635mm in the wettest place in the UK), and the deep­est

Gen­tle 10m-long whale sharks are handfed by grate­ful fish­er­men in New Guinea’s Cen­der­awasih Bay.

1 Golden snub­nosed mon­keys can with­stand freez­ing tem­per­a­tures in China’s forests.

A mother and in­fant orang­utan in one of the species’ few re­main­ing habi­tats, the an­cient rain­forests of Bor­neo.

One of the dri­est places on Earth, western Iran’s deserts house a mas­ter of dis­guise, the spi­der-tailed horned viper.

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