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Galapagos Evolution
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by on September 6, 2016

Galapagos Evolution

Dinosours in The Galapagos Islands?

Galapagos Evolution:

UNESCO declared the Galapagos Islands —an archipelago made up of 127 islands, islets and rocks some 1000 km out west from mainland Ecuador— a World Heritage Site in 1979 because of the uniqueness or endemism of their abundant biodiversity. The Galapagos Islands are home to a greater variety of flora and fauna than anywhere else in the world with a marine environment that is a veritable ‘melting pot’ of marine species. These islands and their marine reserve are known as a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’.

It’s early beginnings…

Sierra Negra volcano

Located near the intersection of three major tectonic plates (Nazca, Cocos and Pacific) and above the Galapagos hotspot, it could be said that the Galapagos Islands literally ‘grew out from the sea’ (as per the norm with most oceanic islands, this archipelago owes its origins to underwater volcanic activity). However, the formation of the Galapagos is an ongoing process with the older islands dating back to 3 to 5 million years ago while the younger islands are still being formed as late as 2009, all part of Galapagos evolution.

A hidden paradise

tourist in galapagos beach

Visitors on a Galapagos Island Tour or a Galapagos Cruise will not fail to notice that the archipelago’s environment is rather harsh and unforgiving, not to mention the general isolation of it all. And it is precisely in these difficult and remote conditions that both flora and fauna or ‘pioneer species’ arrived over millions of years, entirely by chance (storms, ocean currents, etc.) adapted and survived, establishing a dynasty whose descendants can be seen today.

Life find its way

How life —regardless of the conditions— adapted and found a way would eventually provide the basis for Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection
finch in tree closeup

How life —regardless of the conditions— adapted and found a way would eventually provide the basis for Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, which states that those species best adapted or able to adapt to their environment will survive. The isolation of the Galapagos Islands and the small size of the populations of species there would thus have resulted in drastic or a variety of adaptations. An example of this are the 13 species of finches identified by Darwin —all from a single ancestor— with varying diets ranging from cacti to blood. In short, the geological origin, location, as well as unique and extreme biodiversity of this archipelago, make the Galapagos Islands well worth the visit.

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