The word "tepui" means "house of the gods" in the language of the indigenous Pemón people of South America. Pémon mythology says that gods and ancestor spirits live atop the tepuis, and that the mountains should not be explored by the living. The tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, descends down the sheer slope of a tepui for 979 meters (3,212 ft). Because of the elevation of their summits, tepuis have many endemic species of plants and animals, and exhibit extraordinary biodiversity. A tepui was even the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World."
Tall, Flat-Topped Tepuis Are Worlds Unto Themselves
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Key Facts In This Video
Tepuis are biodiversity hotspots that house many species unknown to science. 01:33
The tepui Mount Weiassipu has a large crevasse with a forest on the bottom. 04:13
Tepuis could be 40 to 50 million years old. 06:59