The Galapagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago it is located in the Pacific Ocean. It's considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife viewing. It's isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species. Charles Darwin visited in 1835, and his observation of Galapagos species later inspired his theory of evolution. The islands were named "Insulae de los Galopegos" (Islands of the Tortoises) in reference to the giant tortoises found there. The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of 13 major islands and more than a hundred smaller islands that straddle the equator off the Ecuadorian coast. They are home to an amazing array of unique animal species: giant tortoises, iguanas, fur seals, sea lions, sharks, rays, and 26 species of native birds 14 of which make up the group known as Darwin’s finches. According to a 1952 study by Thor Heyerdahl and Arne Skjølsvold, remains of potsherds and other artifacts from several sites on the islands suggest visitation by South American peoples in preColumbian era. The group located an Inca flute and shards from more than 130 pieces of ceramics, which were later identified as preIncan.
Galapagos marine iguanas are the world’s only marine lizards. They inhabit the Galapagos Islands and, in the absence of mammalian predators, have adapted well to the harsh marine environment. Superficially they resemble large lizards, though they have evolved blunt noses for grazing on seaweed, laterally flattened tails to assist swimming, and powerful limbs with strong claws to help them cling to rocks.
Land Iguanas live in the drier areas of the islands and in the mornings are found sprawled beneath the hot equatorial sun. However, to escape the heat of the midday sun, they seek the shade of cactus, rocks, trees or other vegetation. At night they sleep in burrows dug in the ground, to conserve their body heat. The Land Iguanas show a fascinating interaction with Darwin’s Finches, raising themselves off the ground and allowing the little birds to remove ticks.
The Galápagos giant tortoise are the largest living species of tortoise. Modern Galápagos tortoises can weigh up to 417 kg. Today giant tortoises exist only on two remote archipelagos. The Galápagos 1000 km due west of Ecuador, and Aldabra in the Indian Ocean, 700 km east of Tanzania.
On his visit to the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin discovered several species of finches that varied from island to island, which helped him to develop his theory of natural selection. These finches are considered to be the world’s fastest-evolving vertebrates because their appearance and behavior quickly adapted to this closed and rapidly changing environment. Today, Darwin’s finches are under attack from an introduced parasitic fly. Earth watch volunteers helped to catch finches in mist nets (thin nets invisible to birds), measured them, took genetic samples, and recorded damage caused by the parasite before setting them free.