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Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

a natural evolution laboratory


The fauna attraction of the Galapagos is, in addition to endemism by its isolation, due to the variety of species in different climatic zones gathered together in one place.
This is how we can find penguins along with reptiles of desert climates, or swimming with tropical fishes. Galapagos is also a place where we can see the same species distributed in different subspecies, one for each island, as it is the case of the giant tortoises that are the icon and that give the name to the archipelago. Darwin's finches and mockingbirds are also representative of Galapagos wildlife evolution. All these and other animals developed, over thousands of years, different strategies and specific adaptations to be able to feed on each island, presenting different signs of evolution over time. This phenomenon eventually led Charles Darwin to develop his theory of evolution.
Being Galapagos a group of volcanic islands of different ages, we find in them examples of different stages of what will have been the formation of the planet. We can observe how pioneering plants of fragile appearance open transition to life in the midst of fields of black lava, which seems at first sight impossible that something there could survive. In this sense, Galapagos is considered to be a living laboratory, where its attractiveness is not simply watch their peaceful animals at very short distances, but also observe, learn and understand how life developed on the planet, from its beginnings to what it is today.

Giant Tortoises (Geochelone)

Giant Tortoise
Giant Tortoise
Giant Tortois

It is the planet's largest living tortoise; they may weigh up to 230 Kg and live up to 200 years. They received from the Spaniards the name of Galapago for its resemblance to an English saddle. Darwin observed the differences in the shape of their shells, caused mainly by its scope to food availability or its reproductive behavior in each island. The subspecies from Isabela have been kept isolated from each other by the impossibility to pass through lava flows.

Tortoise from Santa Cruz Geochelone porteri
Tortoise from Santiago Geochelone darwin
Tortoise from Pinzon Geochelone ephippium
Tortoise from San Cristobal Geochelone chatamensis
Tortoise from EspaƱola Geochelone hoodensis
Tortoise from Pinta Geochelone abingdoni
(Solitary George - extinct June 2012)

Tortoises from Isabela:

Tortoise from Alcedo Geochelone vandenburgi
Tortoise from Cerro Azul Geochelone vicina
Tortoise from Sierra Negra Geochelone guntheri
Tortoise from Darwin Geochelone microphyes
Tortoise from Wolf Geochelone beck

Darwin Finches

Darwin Finch
Darwin Finch

On each island all species present a different morphology of its beak, also derived from the food found on the Islands they inhabit, or expertise in their respective eating habits. From a single common ancestor, the following species have been developed in the Galapagos:


Large ground finch Geospiza magnirostris
Medium ground finch Geospiza fortis
Small ground finch Geospiza fuliginosa
Common cactus finch Geospiza scandens
Large cactus finch Geospiza conirostris
Sharp-beaked ground finch Geospiza difficilis
Vampire finch Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis
Vegetarian finch Camarhynchus crassirostris
Large tree finch Camarhynchus psittacula
Medium tree finch Camarhynchus pauper
Small tree finch Camarhynchus parvulus
Woodpecker finch Camarhynchus pallidus
Mangrove finch Camarhynchus heliobates
Warbler finch Certhidea olivacea

Flightless Cormorant (Nannopterum harrisi)

Darwin Finch
Darwin Finch

Having no predators and without the need to move long distances to find their food or for reproductive requirements this nice bird gradually lost its ability to fly. Its wings were atrophy, losing most of their feathers.
In all these and in every native and endemic species of the archipelago we can find different examples of adaptation, and all this we see when we travel between the different islands, doing some attractive hiking and attentive observation.
Underwater we also find many wonders, as well as the fact that, by the influence of ocean currents, the Equatorial location and climate, the Galapagos Islands have special conditions which are not repeated on any part of the world and gather a variety and huge amount of exceptional marine fauna and flora.

Marine and land Iguanas
Marine Iguana
Marine Iguana

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