The Galapagos & Evolution
The pristine Galapagos Islands have played a huge and very important role in helping to define Darwin’s ‘Theory of Natural Selection’ or as it is more popularly known the ‘Theory of Evolution’. When Darwin landed in the Galapagos aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835, he made some amazing and very unusual discoveries. During his five week stay on the four islands of Isabela, San Cristobal, Santiago and Floreana, he came to realize the difference between the wildlife species on each of the islands. It was these differences that helped him form his theory of evolution, which in 1859 revolutionized the way people thought life was created.
Darwin’s research of the Galapagos summarized that each island had its own species of tortoises, reptiles, finches, and other birds. All of these wildlife species had adapted themselves to better suit the environment they were living in. For example in the Galapagos today, there are 13 endemic species of finches found on the various islands. While all these finches are similar, they are set apart by slightly differing characteristics such as a longer or shorter beak, full or less plumage, and different feeding habits. Therefore by adapting themselves to their habitat, these finches have gone on to create their own subspecies. And this is what the theory of evolution is all about.
In Darwin’s theory of evolution he states that in different environments, certain mammals are born with slightly different characteristics from their parent or siblings. These characteristics can help an animal survive better in the environment they are living in. The better they adapt, the more likely they are to not only survive, but to have a family of their own. These favorable genetic traits in turn are further passed on to their young, which are able to acclimatize themselves better with their environment, thus creating a difference between the original species and the descendants, where in the descendents are a different species altogether.
The Galapagos shows that with each wildlife species better adapting themselves to their environment, they are able to not only survive but thrive in the habitat that they live in. Another example of the theory of evolution in action is the iguana population of the Galapagos. While the land iguanas have adapted themselves to eating cactus, the marine iguanas feed on seaweed only.