What Made Darwin Sail to the Galapagos Islands?
Galapagos Islands are a small group of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern Pacific. Total area is about 7880 sq km (3040 sq miles). The Galapagos Islands and its surrounding waters form a biological marine reserve. The equator runs through the islands, but ocean currents make the climate temperate. There are few inhabitants; mostly fishermen and their families. The islands have a population of around 23,000. The principal language on the islands is Spanish.
The Galapagos are famous for their unusual wildlife, such as the giant tortoises. The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage. Charles Darwin visited them gaining ideas for his future work on evolution which had a resounding impact on the formation of his Theory of Natural Selection.
A rather unmotivated and failing medical scholar, Charles Darwin after finalizing his studies in Cambridge accompanied Captain Robert Fitzroy as a travel companion and naturalist on the HMS Beagle. His book the Voyage of the Beagle is an account of his worldwide journey.
When setting off from England in 1831 for a five-year voyage, Darwin had little ambitions for groundbreaking scientific research. After surveying the coasts of South America, the ship stopped over in the Galapagos Islands. During his visit to the islands, Darwin noted that the unique creatures were similar from island to island, but perfectly adapted to their environments which led him to ponder the origin of the islands’ inhabitants.
Among those that struck Darwin so greatly were the finches, today there are a total of 14 of which make up the group known as Darwin’s finches. 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.
Darwin would later base some of his thought from the supposing that these finches were all descendents of the same lineage. Years later in 1859, Darwin finally consolidated all of his observations into his famous book On The Origin of Species, drastically and controversially altering the scientific view on the biological origins of life.