Although natural selection takes place all over the globe, nowhere is it more evident than in the Galapagos Islands. Located 600 miles off the western coast of Ecuador, these UNESCO World Heritage islands are a haven to some of the world’s most endangered species. Though not being much diversified in terms of species and total counts, it is known for being a “Laboratory of Evolution”; species that arrived there did not survive by diversifying, but rather by evolving specific traits to suit a certain niche in the environment.
Being of volcanic origin with not much connection with the mainland, only a few predators were able to make their way to these Islands; leaving the wildlife tame and fearless of human contact. With Spanish being the official language of these Islands, it is quite interesting to know that the most iconic species found on these islands are that of mystical giant tortoises, which in old Spanish were called “Galapagos”, thus giving name to these remote yet worth exploring islands.
As almost all the species that are residing there arrived by either, floating, swamping or flying, Galapagos have the only species of iguana in the world, that are not land-based; the Marine Iguana .
These Islands are also extremely pristine, as they were the historical inspiration of naturalist Charles Darwin, and contributed to his theory of natural selection with its 13 species of finches. Known as Darwin’s Finches, each species has its own distinct features, with more diversity existing internally.
These islands don’t just inhabit one of the smallest penguins in the world; but are also home to those endangered species that exist throughout. By being the only species of penguin that live north of the equator, the Galapagos Penguins are entirely unique to the Galapagos Islands.
Another exotic bird species that are worth spotting there are that of Blue-footed boobys. Defined by their distinctive and striking blue feet, approximately 70% of the total blue-footed booby population in the world exists in Galapagos.
So where these exclusive species make Galapagos an extraordinary and unique place to visit, the beauty of these Islands make the experience more worthwhile.