The Galapagos Islands are considered the world's greatest natural laboratory. Charles Darwin, the scientist, visited the islands in 1835 and his famous work "The Origin of Species" was published 23 years after this visit. Darwin's theory of evolution changed the scientific landscape.
Darwin studied island species, mainly finches and tortoises, his studies concluded that these species had evolved in different ways in each island.
Nature had adapted to the environment to better increase their chances of survival.
Galapagos Giant Tortoises belong to the oldest reptiles and zoologists have classified in 14 races or subspecies belonging to three groups: sea turtles, freshwater and land tortoises.
The tortoises were almost extinct due to hunting by sailors in passing whale ships. It is estimated that at the beginning of the century, an American whaling fleet caught more than 13,000 tortoises. Because this over hunting, two species of tortoises on the islands of Floreana and Santa Fe are considered extinct. In 2012 the last of the Pinta island tortoises died, his name was "Lonesome George", he passed away in captivity in the Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz. The tortoise protection is one of the most important activities carried out by the Darwin Station. Its facilities house the captive breeding program of giant tortoises, which are housed and cared until they are 5 years old before being relocated to their original island of origin.
These animals do not stop their growth from birth to death. They have high resistance to water and lack of food. It is hypothesized that they can live up to 200 years.
Galapagos hosts numerous genera and species of land and sea birds. Millions of years ago, migrating birds came to the islands and an adaptation processes modified species, differentiating them from the birds in the continent.
Pink flamingos are surely the most beautiful birds that came to the islands. They are found in the lagoons of Floreana and Isabella islands.
Other interesting birds are the Darwin's finches and the Magnificent frigates which can be observed in the majority of the islands, the Nazca boobies in Genovesa island, the world's 2nd smallest penguins in Isabella island and the Albatross in Español island.
Iguanas are endemic species of reptile in the Galapagos Islands. They are marine and land iguanas, each with different characteristics. The first are dark, almost black, Darwin called them "little geniuses of the night". These iguanas resting on the lava rocks and kept in absolute stillness, as only move when someone approaches them.
Its backbone is lined with spiny tips. Theodore Wolf mentioned that the marine iguana is the only remaining ancestor of marine dinosaurs that populated the planet ages ago.
The land iguana is dark yellow, feeds on cacti, palo santo leaves and moyuyo. They usually live in the drier parts of the islands and dig burrows between 15 and 20 inches deep.
Also called "Lobos marinos" sea wolves in Spanish are a curious and playful mammal that are thought to have arrived in Galapagos on the Humboldt current.
The largest sea lion colonies are found on the islands of South Plazas, Fernandina and Fernandina. On Genovesa island there are fur sea lions, the only of their kind to live in such tropical climate.