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Evolving Galapagos

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Santa Cruz

Just a theory – Amazing beasts – No fear – Moving eggs

One cannot think about the Galapagos without thinking about science and the name Charles Darwin. It was the unusual life forms found here that proved critical to the formulation of the Theory of Evolution. The Theory of Evolution is just that, a theory that explains observed phenomena, just like the Theory of Gravity, or the Theory of Relativity. All share the same factual plane in the eyes of science and as far as we know all hold true, until some undiscovered data cause us to revise one or all of them. All scientific facts have to be predicated by “As far as we know…” or “Evidence indicates…”, which makes science very exasperating for some.

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Black finch

The Theory of Evolution has itself evolved and today it has splintered into subgroups like gradualists who believe that evolution was a slow gradual process and puncuated gradualists that believe that the gradual process at times had sudden rapid spurts. This is only one example, and there are many other groups and subgroups that make it seem as if evolutionary biologists are in violent disagreement about the whole thing. But such is science – for simple black and white answers better to look else where.

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Giant Tortoise

The most amazing beasts we have seen so far have been the Giant Tortoises. To this day we do not know how they got to the Galapagos – the only conjecture is that they floated here from South America, but that seems like a ludicrously long distance for a Proto-Giant Tortoise to float. But here they are nonetheless, evolving into twelve species here on the Galapagos. These plodding, slow creatures can live to be over 150 years old and are strict vegetarians.

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Blue footed booby

Another very cool thing about the wildlife here in the Galapagos is that it does not have any innate fear of humans! On a trip to Seymour Island we strolled by nesting Frigate birds and Blue Footed Boobies close enough to touch then. We are so used to animals fleeing upon approach that it is quite an experience to see them up close. Even the tiny birds known as Darwin’s Finches seem quite unpreturbed as we walk by. Very strange indeed!

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Lava Lizard

Today 97% of the Galapagos are under the National Park system and the visits are strictly regulated. Despite severe threats from introduced plants and animals the islands ecosystem remains largely intact and the Ecuadorean government is working hard to preserve it. We did our little bit today by helping to move some Giant Tortoise eggs from a nest to a controlled incubator for hand-rearing. With luck, the Galapagos will be there to be enjoyed by many future generations!

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Tortuga Bay

Frigate bird

Marine iguanas


11 Responses to “Evolving Galapagos”

  1. Galan says:


    Emily liked the picture of the blue-footed booby. She featured it in a school project last year. :)

    I can only imagine you are having the time of your lives there. 😉

    — Galan

  2. shanta auntie says:

    Shreesh , how long did you spend on the island? Beautiful birds! Not so fond of Iguanas and lizards. I am glad they are preserving the island! Quito looked beautiful too.
    By the way did you know there is cotopaxi in colorado? We did white river rafting there on the arkansas river with Ashwin.

  3. k says:

    very cool. great pictures, sounds like you have a nice stretch of time there to make full use of your photo equipment. blue footed boobys are on the must see list for my kids. I hear there is also good snorkling.

  4. Vinay says:

    Galapagos is like a pilgrimage for Darwinists. It is great that you guys could go there. Given that there are so many tropical islands on the planet, how is the diversity of the species here explained? I have wondered that one, but clearly not enough to go look it up.
    Regarding Darwinism, even as you say the theory has developed over the years, but to me it is incredible how many of the tenets he got right off the bat, 200 years ago. We still live in the splashy zones in the wake of this theory, and the turbulence in the clash with old ideas still surrounds us. It is interesting that intelligences emerge in evolutionary pressures to be resistant to the idea of emerging from evolutionary pressures.

  5. ada says:

    Love the blue-footed booby. Gotta love Darwin! You both look very relaxed.

  6. Suhasini Taskar says:

    Shreesh and Neena,
    Lovely picture of the Blue footed booby and lava lizard. Must be interesting to visit Darwin research center. When you say how did the tortoise ever get there, I would like to know more about how Darwin landed there too.
    How was the journey in Galapagos so far? Were you able to explore the islands on your own or always had to be accompanied with a guide? Did you go snorkeling yet?

  7. fred says:

    Love the boobies.

  8. Neena says:

    Hello Shanta Auntie and Aai,
    We are doing day trips to various uninhabited islands. Isabella and Puerto Ayora are the only two islands so far where we have spent a few nights. We will be visiting Floreana tomorrow and then go to San Cristobal.
    Almost every trip in the islands seems to be a short walk on the island then snorkelling in the afternoon. The best snorkelling we had was in an area called Los Tunneles where we saw a marine turtle and white tipped sharks. In another location we swam with a whole group of penguins.

  9. shanta auntie says:

    How exciting!

  10. So good to see you are in a truly peaceful place where man has not changed it. Love your travels.

  11. Giles says:

    Thanks for taking us with you via your blog. Especially enjoy the video clips.

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