The Galapagos Islands are inseparable to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. As the British naturalist went on a four-year trip around the world he visited the archipelago where he took a decisive impulse for his revolutionary idea about the origin of species.
During his stay of several weeks in September and October 1835 Darwin observed that the flora and fauna of the remote islands had amazing variations. the giant turtles particularly caught his attention: Darwin concluded that the turtles had developed over time the ability to adapt to different environmental and nutritional conditions. Galapagos tortoises have two very different shapes, each adapted for different feeding habits needed on low, arid islands versus high, lusher islands.
Darwin also studied numerous types of finch, a different species on each island. He observed that each finch species had a different type of beak depending on the food available on its island. The finches that ate large nuts had strong beaks for breaking the nuts open. Finches that ate small nuts and seeds had beaks for cracking nuts and seeds. Darwin noticed that fruit-eating finches had parrot-like beaks, and that finches that ate insects had narrow, prying beaks.
Among the most interesting examples of evolution is the flightless cormorant which as all his other relatives on the mainland could once fly, but it had no enemies in the Galapagos and the rich sea didn’t force it to fly far, its wings degenerated into short, rudimentary stumps not suitable for flying but useful for swimming and diving.
Galapagos Islands shares some natural features with other volcanic islands such as: the scarcity of fresh water, the existence of active volcanism and the presence of endemic flora and fauna very sensitive to the introduction of foreign species.
But contrasting with other similar islands due to the late human settlement and conservation efforts, the Galapagos islands still hold much of its original biodiversity. That is why it has become a world icon of conservation, Galapagos is a unique region, where crucial ecological processes are still active with minimum human interfering.
Join us in an exciting journey to follow Darwin’s steps on the theory of evolution.