It wouldn't be accurate to say that Lewis and Clark made discoveries, because the Native Americans the team met knew their land and already were familiar with the plants and animals found in the West. During the journey that spanned, the expedition group -- called the Corps of Discovery -- met almost 50 Native American tribes. Most were friendly, such as the Shoshone [source: LoC], Nez Pierce, Crow and Cheyenne; the group was able to learn from them.
The Corps brought information about many plants and animals to the attention of Americans back East. The route taken by Lewis and Clark and their expedition team was full of flora and fauna they had never seen before. They spotted predators such as mountain lions, coyotes, snakes, bobcats and foxes.
The most fearsome were the grizzly bears, which were also new to Lewis and Clark. Their travel diaries mention frequent run-ins with grizzlies. Though the spelling standards of the time differ from today's, this entry effectively communicates the risk associated with hunting such a large predator: "In the evening we saw a Brown or Grisley [sic] beare on a sand beech, I went out with one man Geo Drewyer & Killed the bear, which was verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights This animal is the largest of the carnivorous kind I ever saw we had nothing that could way him, I think his weight may be stated at 500 pounds [source: NatGeo]."
During the journey, they documented more than 125 kinds of animals and 178 animal species that dwelt in the newly acquired land. They saw new kinds of trees, grasses and flowers, new types of tobacco and herbs like hemlock and tarragon. The blue huckleberry, California hazelnut and Cascade grape also were documented. The journey lasted for two-and-a-half years, wending from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast -- near the present Oregon-Washington border -- before heading back to St. Louis. By the time they returned, many Americans had given up hope for the expedition party, assuming its members had gotten lost in (or consumed by) the wilderness they set out to record.
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