the archipelago that changed the history of biology


One of the most biodiverse places on the planet, the Galapagos Islands are of great importance in world history. With great natural beauty and striking sights, anthropic action can put the lives of thousands of living beings at risk

Belonging to Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are located about 1,000 km west of the coast. Composed of thirteen larger islands, the most visited by tourists, six smaller ones and dozens of very small pieces of land. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, high temperatures are prevalent – mainly because the imaginary equator line cuts across the territory. Adding all the islands, it is about 8,000 km2 of land area and, in total, more than 50,000km2 .

galapagos islands location
Location of the Galapagos Islands. | Photo: escolabritannica.

Underneath the islands, there are two major tectonic plates: the peaceful plate and the Nazca plate. The natural movement of terrestrial magma originated the archipelago about 5 million years ago. For this reason, several volcanoes make up the beautiful scenery and several studies indicate that they were responsible for the formation of the islands from their eruptions.

Galapagos Islands and biodiversity

The first population record was in the 16th century, by an Irish resident who depended on the harvest and small tourism of the time. However, the islands gained greater knowledge when, in 1835, the future scientist Charles Darwin made a long visit to the archipelago. During his stay, the British developed his most notorious work: the book The Origin of Species.

Darwin
Charles Darwin. | Photo: plg.gal.

At the time, the belief was based on creationism – preached by the Catholic Church – which justified the creation of all species from God. With his studies, Darwin relied on the island’s great biodiversity and developed evolutionary theory

The archipelago’s biodiversity really delights. Wild animals such as huge sea turtles, iguanas, seals, relaxing on the beach, dolphins that jump in the air and sea lions that adorn the beautiful landscape. Certainly, birds are also a fundamental part of the fauna, which were essential to the Darwinian study.

The three main islands are Isabela, San Cristobál and Santa Cruz – which houses the access line to the archipelago, the airport. Several islands are not inhabited, they are only available for tourists to get to know the place. This has been a strong aggravating factor in animal life, the pollution left by visitors harms and kills living beings.

The group of islands has, on average, 28 thousand inhabitants and the main source of income for the residents is based on fishing, agronomy and tourism.

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By Nina Galiotte – Speak! Casper

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