Two impressive animals from the Galapagos

Two impressive animals from the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are located more than 1,000 km off the coast of South American Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, almost right on the equator. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835 during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. The nature of islands proved to be of great importance in the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

Three ocean currents converge on the islands and there is ongoing volcanic and seismic activity; these factors, along with the isolation of the islands, have led to the unusual animal life that can be seen on the islands.

What it is, the marine reserve and islands are known as a “living museum and showcase of evolution”. The islands’ natural inhabitants are world-renowned for being fearless of humans, thanks to their long history of evolution in absolute isolation from humanity. For this reason, the Galapagos is perhaps the most popular destination in the world for nature lovers who want to see some of the islands’ most famous inhabitants.

Galapagos Tortoise

It is the largest living tortoise and is the most famous symbol of the Galapagos Islands. Turtles can weigh more than 250 kg and their shells can measure 150 cm; they move slowly and have a lifespan of over 150 years.

These creatures are herbivores and live on a diet of fruits, leaves, grasses, vines and cacti. Turtles that feed on tall growing cacti have curved shells to allow their longer necks to reach the food, while turtles that feed on above-ground vegetation have domed shells.

With 11 subspecies still living on the islands, there used to be 15 subspecies. The turtles are believed to have arrived on the island floating on a piece of wood along the Pacific coast. A similar large tortoise lives in mainland South America, which is related to the Galapagos tortoise.

Since 1969, there have been strict conservation measures established by the Charles Darwin Research Station to help endangered tortoises in the Galapagos National Park. Charles Darwin Research Station started a turtle breeding project and they collect the turtle eggs and raise the hatchlings until they are able to defend themselves from predators because if they don’t they will be endangered. This project has changed things and has already placed 10 of the 11 threatened species at protected levels.

Galapagos Pink Land Iguana

The iguana is a large lizard; the islands are home to both the marine iguana and the land iguana. The pink iguana has pink scales with black stripes on its body and is believed to be a hybrid of the two iguana species. This particular species was first spotted on the islands in 1986, but was not classified as a separate species until 2009.

There are physical differences between the species, pink iguanas have flat scales on their heads, while land iguanas have a thick fat crest on the back of their necks with small cone-shaped scales.

The “Volcanic Wolf”, the volcano in the north of Isabella Island, is the only place where this iguana can be found and is recognized by its striped pink body. It is estimated that there are about 100 living species and therefore urgent action must be taken to prevent its extinction.

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