Discover the experiences that inspire our work and learn more about Guatemalan Flora and Fauna

  • As part of the MayanToons Team, it is fundamental to keep the right references and have inspiration resources. Most of the time we use the photographs taken by the team during field trips just as the fundamental information about the species we are portraying in the illustrations. Going to a field trip as part of the MayanToons team is an extraordinary experience. To have that interaction with nature, its colors, textures, environment helps massively to have a better understanding of how the species are in real life. Discovering the Savannah I had the

  • What are mangroves? Mangroves are ecosystems that you can find on the border between land and sea. They are home to a wide variety of species, including migratory birds, marine species, reptiles, and some plant species. In addition, they have many benefits, such as their contribution to food security and the protection of coastal communities around the world. Take a 3D tour of the Mangle ecosystem! https://bit.ly/3eKlm1t What species are there? Red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) Black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) White mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) Button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) These four mangrove species are categorized as protected

  • There is a lot of fish in the ocean! There are also mammals, reptiles, plants, algae, etc. In this new blog post, we are going to focus on the "slower" reptiles that live in the sea. Guess which ones? Turtles, marine turtles. We are also going to tell you about our experience working with one of the institutions dedicated to protecting and studying the oceans in Guatemala, Central America. Turtles are considered "slow" within the collective imagination (and maybe because of the famous fable “the tortoise and the hare”). However, this

  • A little introduction A little over a year ago I joined the FLAAR Mesoamerica team, in the MayanToons division. This is a team that creates, develops and seeks to educate more people in Guatemala, to know and join a task that belongs to everyone: the protection of Mother Earth. The house that, for many generations, has been preserved by Mayan leaders and peoples, where I belong. I am Laura Morales, I am K'iche' and together with a small but skillful and capable team of illustrators, researchers and passionate about nature and the

  • My name is Josefina Sequen, I am a digital illustrator at Mayantoons, where I make educational books for children. Our series of books are about, adventures in nature, know my species, ABC, nature contests, discover my role. Through these books, we teach the skills of learning to write and pronounce the alphabet to children and young people, also about the importance of each species of animal in nature and we can learn how to conserve and protect them, and thus use our resources in a responsible way. I love the

  • We know that it is not easy to keep children entertained at home and with the arrival of the holidays it is likely that the family wants to get out of the routine. Therefore, today we want to share with you some places that you can visit to learn about nature, entertain yourself and rest. Avenida Las Américas A place to visit on Sunday mornings and exercise, share with the family, ride a bike or even skate. In addition, it allows pets. Monuments and ornamental Jacaranda trees along the ride would be

  • We are a team that works for the preservation and conservation of the multiculturalism and biodiversity of Guatemala through education focused on children, so from an early age, they can approach and know our resources, and thus when they know, love, and care all this that surrounds us. Our team is made up of professionals in different areas, who make our projects possible.   MayanToons is a FLAAR Mesoamerica project, born of Nicholas Hellmuth, our founder, who has always worked in order to have extensive documentation of our native resources, talking about

  • [vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Welcome to our revamped section on the MayanToons website: the blog. In this new segment, you can learn more about our work, you can get a little closer to our creators and the people who give life to our MayanToons world. I am Vivian Díaz, the MayanToons project manager since 2014. Today I have the full support of Valeria Avilés, with whom we combine our skills, both mine in environmental and nature issues, as well as her in illustration and the world of design. In this post, I will give you a

  • The genus Tillandsia is the largest of the Bromeliaceae family. They are characterized by having various adaptations that allow them to deal with water scarcity. They have several leaves, bracts and sepals very grouped, which allows them to create "tanks" of water that also provide a microhabitat for various insects. In addition, they have the CAM photosynthetic system, which makes efficient use of water during photosynthesis (Chilpa, Andrade, Rodríguez & Reyes, 2017). Tillandsia brachycaulos Schldl. is a species of bromeliad common to observe in the Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park. It’s commonly called

  • Have you ever wondered how a forest is formed? It’s thanks to many factors, both biotic and abiotic. Certain climatic conditions, soil quality, water and the role of different species are necessary. However, one of the most important creators of forests are seed dispersers. Without them, the flora species could not spread and therefore, there would be no vegetation cover. Without plant cover, it simply would not be a forest.   The dispersed part of the plant is called a propagule, since many times not only the seed is transported. The main propagule dispersing

  • The avocado, Persea sp., is one of the most coveted fruits in the world, it’s native to Mesoamerica, where evidence of its cultivation dating from 1,500 years BC is found. It has more than 400 varieties and is cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Its most commercialized varieties are: "Hass", "Fuerte" and "Nabal". Its cultivation, commerce and consumption stand out for its different uses and properties: Culinary: being present in dishes such as guacamol, soups and salads. Medicinal: for having antioxidant properties, for the prevention of cardiovascular

  • Helping people change eating habits to significantly improve health with fruits and vegetables Mayan fruits, vegetables, leaves, roots have potential to improve your health The mother of one of our student interns has been ill for several months. Twice an ambulance had to save her life by arriving at their home so remote in the jungle covered mountains that normally it requires 4WD, and then you have to hike to the actual house. I would like to help improve her health, and improve the health of people throughout Guatemala (and surrounding countries), both

  • Learning about the white water lily; one of the most common flowers shown in Classic Maya murals, sculptures, and vase paintings, as background for comic book characters Why is there a Mayan “water lily Jaguar”? It is well documented that jaguars have no hesitation about jumping into rivers and lakes. They may be chasing a fleeing animal who itself jumps in and tries to swim away. Plus there are several awesome videos showing jaguars in Brazil swimming up to sun-bathing crocodiles on the other side of a river, or jumping off a

  • I was able to learn about Mayan cacao by raising cacao trees in my own garden in Guatemala, plus visiting cacao plantations in Soconusco and Tabasco Personal experience with chocolate and cacao trees, in Mexico and Guatemala We will have cacao characters in our Maya comic book cartoons, grandparents, females, kids: entire family of plant cartoon characters. This page is to introduce our background in learning about cacao. Anyone can draw a bird, animal, or plant cartoon: we differ because we have personal experience in both the natural eco-systems of these species,

  • Tarantulas of Guatemala are common in Peten (Tikal, Yaxha, etc), Alta Verapaz, and elsewhere; they are not dangerous (in most cases) With so many cartoon characters already existing, I wish to develop innovative cartoon characters based on a tad more realism. Yes, our characters will be part human and part animal (in other words, anthropomorphic animals). But I will do my best to learn the different personalities of different animals. So far I have experience interacting with tarantulas in El Peten, Izabal and Alta Verapaz areas of Guatemala. Local people are scared

  • Tailless whip scorpions are scary looking but these Amblypygi do not attack I understand when people do not like spiders, wasps, or snakes I must admit that I do not interact well with wild snakes that I find out in the rain forests or deserts. But at a zoo I have no problem having the herpetologist put a snake on my shoulder or wrap it around my arm. But I must admit, I prefer an animal such as a peccary, or tapir, where I can interact with it, and use eye contact to

  • Stingless Maya bees of Guatemala will either attack, or not bother you, depending on whether they know you, or not   Bees are everywhere in the Maya and Aztec worlds: So why no Maya the Bee comic character here? There are bees in every Mayan village. Bees are everywhere in the forests. In Guatemala there are even bees which live in the ground ! (this I learned from biologist Mirtha Cano). Since I lived in German-speaking countries for about 20 years, I am familiar with Die Biene Maya comic books and cartoon animation movies. In

  • Puma concolor, cougar, mountain lion in Mayan stories   My first experience with a cougar (Puma concolor), mountain lion, in Belize While leading a group of tourists to learn about the Mayan ruins of Belize and adjacent Peten, we heard about a local person who had a puma wandering around his house. Since I wanted to learn about felines, I asked if I could get to know the puma, in-person. Note: this was an adult puma, not a cub. [vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="7473" img_size="full" alignment="center"][vc_column_text] Fortunately I was naïve and unaware that pumas were potentially more dangerous than

  • Two species of peccary occupy the Mayan areas of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize Peccary are common in many parts of Chiapas, Campeche, Quintana Roo, El Peten, and Belize. There are two species, collared peccary, Pecari tajacu and the slightly larger white–lipped peccary, Tayassu pecari.   Tayassu pecari. White lipped peccary at AutoSafari Chapin [vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Peccary, like jaguars, are symbolic of the Mayan culture. Peccary (and jaguars, deer, and spider monkeys) are frequently shown in vase paintings on ceramics. So it is logical that we will have peccary characters in our Mayan comics and eventual MayanToons animated films. This

  • Getting close and personal with a jaguarundi, Puma yagouaroundi in Guatemala, to research for a female Mayan comic book character Getting to know the personality of a jaguarundi, onza, in Guatemala The first jaguarundi that I saw was in the ZooMAT, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico. I went there several times while leading tour groups. Plus when I had free time and was nearby, I would ask for permission to come to the zoo, enter cages, and get to know the animals in-person. This was in the 1970’s through 1980’s. During the 1990’s onward,

  • Hairless, barkless dogs were only one of the species of Maya dogs; there were also dogs for guarding the homes and for hunting (especially deer)   Questions about Dogs in Maya civilization 2000 years ago the Maya and their neighbours had several kinds of dogs. We have a provisional classification (which we will review as more information is available about ancient dogs of Mesoamérica). [vc_row][vc_column width="1/6"][/vc_column][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text] Short-legged dogs, fed with maize to fatten up and eat. These are especially well documented in the ceramic figurines of the Colima area of northwest Mexico. We

  • Learning about jaguar cubs by interacting with them in-person   Learning about Jaguars in Guatemala My goal is not to be an animal trainer; my interest is to have each different species of animals train me. I wish to learn how the animals think, what they want, and do not want. What they prefer. I would like to understand how to avoid stressing them. How can I make each species be relaxed? My goal is to have our Mayan cartoon characters realistic in appearance, animal-like but at the same time have some human attributes (as

  • Gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus, lives in trees in addition to on the ground Do foxes really live in trees? Having been raised in the Ozark Mountain area of Missouri, I have seen foxes wandering around as a child. At age 19, I lived for 12 months in the Tikal National Park of northern El Peten area of Guatemala, where foxes wander around the North Acropolis during the day. The foxes at Tikal know that no one will bother them, so they walk around even when people are in the Great Plaza. [vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="7428"

  • One species of healthy-sized anteaters live in the trees of Guatemala and Mexico There are dozens of excellent companies producing animated films. There are thousands of capable animators. At the recent SIGGRAPH 2015 expo in Los Angeles there were probably a zillion students of 3D imaging and animation (three of us from FLAAR were there). What sets FLAAR apart is our first-hand experience with the actual animals. Plus fifty years studying Mayan archaeology, ethnobistory,iconography, cosmology, mythology, and hieroglyphic inscriptions. Also we know the various eco-systems (in Guatemala, Mexico, etc) where each animal

  • Stinging wasps will not attack you if they get used to your presence over time   Wasps will NOT (always) sting or attack unless they feel threatened While doing research for this section on happy bees and friendly wasps the #2 return on Google was “how to kill and get rid of honey bees and wasps…” Sorry, bees and wasps tend never to sting you if you do not try to exterminate them. I have interacted with wasps since the 1970’s (described below) and none of the bees or wasps that live all around my

  • Spiders help remove mosquitos and flies from your home or office; so why use harmful insecticide and exterminators? Spiders come in every size and shape And most spider webs are not like ones in Charlotte’s Web storybook for children. Indeed studying the architecture of spider’s webs in Guatemala could keep you busy in forests and fields for decades. [vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="7413" img_size="full" alignment="center"][vc_column_text] This spider. As you can see most of the spiders select very specifically a place to make its web, but the thing its that it could be anywhere. A compact and dark

  • Scorpions are everywhere in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize but do not sting unless provoked or scared Our goal is to describe, and provide information on all the fascinating creatures of the seasonal rain forests, deserts, swamps, mountains, and other diverse eco-systems of Guatemala. Most of these creatures are also in adjacent Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. [vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="7377" img_size="full" alignment="center"][vc_column_text] Scorpion, Photographed at Frutos del Mundo [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] Personal experience with scorpions Our method of research is, when possible, personal interaction with the creatures. I have had multiple tarantulas crawling up one arm. I have had

  • How to learn about Ipomoea alba, moonflower, used to vulcanize rubber To show the Mayan world it helps to know the local plants Our educational program will have many components on the important utilitarian native plants of Guatemala. Each eco-system has different plants, but the Mayan people have often been able to raise some species even though their altitude, weather, and soil is not precisely what the plant prefers in its native area of origin elsewhere in the Maya world. And some species are available only in gardens: they are no longer

  • Female praying mantis would make a good comic book anti-hero for our Maya comic book characters series Potential female Maya comic anti-heroes Occasionally we find praying mantis insects wandering around on the plants in our garden. Since we do not permit the use of insecticides nor chemical fertilizers in our Mayan medicinal plant research garden, we have lots of happy insects. Recently we found what we thought was a female who had just consumed her male lover! (typical of praying mantis, orb spiders, and a few other insects and arachnids). But the “dead”

  • Beetles, butterflies, even flies and wasps help pollinate flowers, as do of course hummingbirds and many bat species What (in Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, etc) pollinates flowers besides bees? Since other than bees, many pollinator species are not known except to biologists, we at FLAAR Reports are working towards launching a project for studying all pollinating creatures. Since our research facilities and decades of experience are in Guatemala, we will focus on this area. But most of the creatures of Guatemala are found throughout Mesoamerica. [vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image="7340" img_size="full" alignment="center"][vc_column_text] Some species of butterfly prefer specific

  • MayanToons compared with Maya the Bee and Maya animation software What is the difference between a Maya bee and Maya the bee? Maya the Bee (Die Biene Maja) was a common television program while I lived for close to 20 years in Switzerland, Austria, then Germany. The original book dates back to 1912. There have been comic books, TV series from 1975-1980, and recently Maya the Bee Movie (2014-2015). It is ironic that Maya the Bee, which is based on the European girl’s name Maya, is not related to Maya civilization of

  • Although igunas spend time on the ground (and can swim) they also rest on tree limbs There are two species of iguanas in Guatemala spiny-tailed iguana, black iguana,Ctenosaura similis, green iguana, Iguana iguana, The “green” iguana is actually gray as an adult. Iguanas are eaten throughout Guatemala and sold at many Mayan style markets. However it is probably illegal to buy or sell a wild iguana that a hunter has trapped, shot, or otherwise caught. But iguanas can be raised on farms. It is probably legal to buy, sell, and eat these.   My recent experience with

  • Before we develop a Mayan animal comic book character, I endeavor to meet the animal(s) in-person, and learn about them eye-to-eye: even if it is a Crocodylus moreletii My personal experience with a Guatemalan crocodile As target practice in rural areas, children and young adults use gigs to kill baby crocodiles. A gig is a double-speared harpoon-like spear. They also throw rocks at animals to amuse themselves. Plus they use sling-shots to shoot at anything which moves, including endangered species such as macaws. [vc_empty_space][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1521146695148{margin-right: 20px !important;margin-left: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;padding-left: 20px

  • The Scarlet macaw was a logo for the Maya 1400 years ago  Along with the toucan, the scarlet macaw is a worldwide favorite as a logo animal. Indeed the kings of Copan had the macaw as a logo animal for themselves over 1400 years ago.Our initial storyboard is about the mammals of the treetops, but we are fully aware of the natural beauty of macaws as well.   My experience witnessing macaws During the 1970’s into 1990’s, FLAAR organized educational rafting and canoe field trips down the Rio de la Pasion connecting through the

  • Ortalis vetula of Guatemala, is a cute, friendly, raucous wild bird of the Mayan rain forests, and is a potential comic book cartoon character for MayanToons   Our experience with Chachalacas, Ortalis vetula, a remarkable bird of Guatemala The best known chachalaca of the Mayan areas is Ortalis vetula. Birds of this genus can be found from the southernmost end of Texas down through Central America into South America. The bird is very noisy (singing) and since it is the size of a chicken, it is easy to see even in the tree tops. Plus,

  • Keel-billed toucan, Ramphastos sulfuratus is a logo-like symbol of the Neotropical seasonal rain forests of Mesoamerica and adjacent areas (and hence a common corporate logo) When it came time to decide which animal we would use as a logo, I pretty much had a baby jaguar on my mind the entire time. A toucan would have been an obvious choice, since already in 1935 Guinness had it as their beer logo. Plus the keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize since the 1980’s. But the toucan is a logo for

  • Cochlearius cochlearius, boat-billed heron, is a rare wading bird featured by late Olmec and pre-Mayan artists for Tuxtla Statuette   Discovery of a boat-billed heron, in the Canal de Chiquimulilla, near Monterrico Recently I had my first encounter with an unknown bird on the bank of the Canal de Chiquimulilla, between Monterrico and the ferry. I had never noticed this species of bird before, and on the Internet it turns out it is usually very hard to find, and even more hard to photograph. I must admit I did not realize this is one

  • Bufo marinus, marine toad, is a giant toad pictured in Mayan stone sculpture art of Quirigua, Kaminaljuyu, and Izapa found easily in Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, and Honduras (and USA) Bufo marinus is frequently pictured in Mayan art On our Maya archaeology web site we list the best known places where you can see sculptures of Bufo marinus in Guatemala. Bufo marinus is infamous for the remarkable chemicals in its venom sacs Best to read articles written by biologists or chemists on the amazing chemicals in the venom sacs of a Bufo. These poison sacs are clearly visible

  • Mayan uo frog or toad, Mexican burrowing toad, Rhinophrynus dorsalis   Water-related Mayan comic book Characters My 1985 PhD dissertation was on water-related Mayan animals, deities, and cosmology. Eight years research on Mayan underwater-world iconography went into preparation of this dissertation and the coffee table book which resulted (ADEVA, Graz, Austria, 1987). So in addition to tree top animals, our world of Mayan animal comic book characters will include water-related species. During the recent six years, our teams have been exploring rivers, lakes, tinto swamps, and mangrove swamps. Ironically the frog-like creature we introduce

  • [vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Contest is people (or animals actually) competing against each other. There is either a judge or an obvious goal (and the first person to reach the goal is the winner). Contest can be physical (running speed, swimming speed) or intellectual (guessing or interpreting what the host tells them). The event can be called a competition, (tennis) match, race, etc. There are several subsidiary meanings of contest which are not part of the competition contest that we speak of here   Expo is the abbreviation of exposition, you expose (you show for other

  • [vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text] Research is always helpful, before making a decision. So Maya and Victor decide to do research on every kind of pageant and talent show so that they can give to the eager animals something to help them. Libraries are a first step in research for a thousand years (famous library of Alexandria is a good ancient example). Therefore Maya and Victor go to the Mayan Codex Library and look for descriptions and paintings on pageants, talent shows, etc. When you Google the word Pageant, you get (for the US) “a competition for

  • [vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] What is difference between pageant, talent show, science fair and trade-show (expo, exposition)? On this page we introduce how the people of Mayanlandia encourage the local birds and beasts to come together in a friendly manner to show their capabilities in a combination beauty pageant, talent show, and high school science fair. We have a separate page where we list each category and classification of animal: each group will have their own pageant (like the Mayanlandia Doggie Show). History of the development of talent shows & pageants [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][vc_column_text]The people and the birds and

  • Female Maya Bee Character: Meliponia and Trigonia the Maya bee Lots of genera and species of Maya bees in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador (and many more south through Brazil). But for the Mayan world of insects, the diversity of size of bees is remarkable. We see this first-hand since Maya bees make their tunnel-like nests (hives) in the wall in front of the door to our office. Since the Queen Bee is a rather important component of any bee colony, we look forward to having lots of female Maya