On February 17, 2015, our helicopter landed in a slotlike zone macheted out of a stand of heliconia, next to an unnamed river in the valley scientists had nicknamed Target One, or T1. … We climbed a steep embankment and entered the rain forest through a dark hole freshly cut into the jungle, emerging in a gloomy forest, with trees rising like giant cathedral columns into the canopy. Their trunks, ten to fifteen feet in diameter, were braced with massive buttresses and knees. Many were wreathed in strangler figs, called matapalos, or tree killers.” The air carried a heady scent of earth, spice, and rotten decay.

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