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Natural History

The newly-formed Galapagos Islands were initially devoid of life, but tenacious species gradually arrived and survived. Every native plant and animal in the Galapagos arrived by flying, floating, or swimming. This, combined with the unique mix of warm and cold ocean currents, helps explain the odd assortment of species that has thrived here.

As plants and animals reproduced, the isolation of individual islands and varying climate zones led to the evolution of many distinct subspecies. The diversity of mockingbird, tortoise, and finch subspecies was fundamental to Darwin’s development of his theory of evolution through natural selection.

Today, the Galapagos Islands are home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of endemic species. Particularly famous examples include the Galapagos giant tortoise, Galapagos penguin, and marine iguana. The Islands’ lack of natural predators has also given many of the native animals a semi-tame, fearless demeanor.

Introduced species like rats and goats have had a destructive impact on many native species. Fortunately, since the creation of the National Park, much has been done to remove introduced species and restore endangered native species. Today, the National Park and Charles Darwin Foundation are working to preserve the Islands’ biodiversity, but population growth, irresponsible tourism, and climate change present significant threats to the future of the Galapagos. As tourists, it is important to seek out sustainable tour providers and be responsible and conscious of one’s impact at all times.