T h e c o n q u is t a d o r s who first discovered Central and South America must have been disappointed to find that although the fauna was so rich and new, there were no monsters. From the beginning, naturalists have seen the so-called neo-tropical zone, which stretches from Mexico and the West Indies to the very tip of South America, as a region of small animals. The llama, the tallest of its quadrupeds, is merely a rather thin, humpless small camel, a dwarf compared to a giraffe. The deer are small and have small horns, the tiny pudu standing only 37cm at the shoulder. The tapir, the most massive of the indigenous mam­ mals, is far from the size of its distant African cousins the elephant and the rhinoceros. The peccary is merely a miniature wild boar. The jaguar and the puma or cougar are smaller than the lion and tiger. There is only one bear, the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), which lives in the Equatorial Andes of Bolivia and Chile, and it is small in height and bulk. None of the monkeys is as big as a gorilla or orangu­ tan. And the pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea) is so small that you can hold it all in the palm of your hand.