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Galapagos -The Enchanted Islands

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As much as we enjoy describing our experiences in our own style we have decided that this blog would best be written by the Englishman who first revealed the mysteries of the Galapagos islands to the world. These then are the actual words of Charles Darwin as written in Chapter 17 of his 1839 literary diary, 'The Voyage of the Beagle', (The basis of his 1859 opus magnum, ‘On the Origin of Species' in which he conclusively debunked the myth of divine creation.

Darwin wrote:
The Galapagos archipelago consists of ten principal islands situated under the Equator between five and six hundred miles westward of the coast of America. They are all formed of volcanic rocks and some of the craters rise to a height of between three and four thousand feet. Nothing could be less inviting than the first appearance. A broken field of black basaltic lava, thrown into the most rugged waves, and crossed by great fissures, is everywhere covered by stunted, sun-burnt brushwood, which shows little signs of life…
As I was walking along I met two large tortoises, each of which must have weighed at least two hundred pounds: one was eating a piece of cactus, and as I approached, it stared at me and slowly walked away; the other gave a deep hiss, and drew in its head…
These huge reptiles seemed to my fancy like some antediluvian animals. Some grow to an immense size: Mr. Lawson, an Englishman, and vice-governor of the colony, told us that he had seen several so large, that it required six or eight men to lift them from the ground…
The rocks on the coast abounded with great black lizards, between three and four feet long ...
and we will now turn to the order of reptiles, which gives the most striking character to the zoology of these islands. The species are not numerous, but the numbers of individuals of each species are extraordinarily great...

Of land-birds I obtained twenty-six kinds, all peculiar to the (island) group and found nowhere else. With the exception of a wren with a fine yellow breast none of the birds are brilliantly coloured. Hence it would appear probable, that the same causes which here make the immigrants of some peculiar species smaller, as well as very generally more dusky coloured…
(Note – this is an offspring of one of the dusky finches that enabled Darwin to conclusively deduce that all creatures evolved based on their ability to adapt to their environment and circumstances – i.e. survival of the fittest.)

The natural history of these islands is eminently curious. Most of the organic productions are aboriginal creations, found nowhere else; there is even a difference between the inhabitants of the different islands; The archipelago is a little world within itself. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought to that great fact -- that mystery of mysteries -- the first appearance of new beings on this earth.
We found it amazing that we were able to experience, and photograph, exactly the scenes and animals that Darwin encountered more than 150 years ago. Perhaps the most amazing fact is that there are tortoises still alive that were born shortly after Darwin's visit.

Posted by Hawkson 17:35 Archived in Ecuador

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This is simply mind-blowing stuff. I love your clever take on introducing Darwin's observations and blending in your own - not much has changed in 150 years.
Think what you have seen in the past few days - unbelievable.
GREAT photos.

by millerburr

There pictures are absolutely amazing I have never seen anything like them...thanks for showing them to us.

by Jean McLaren

Stunning, especially the cycle of time from Darwin's days to today. Comforting on some levels in an age of such big changes. A sign of my aging I suspect.

by Sue Fitzwilson

A living museum. Wonderful. And only two human beings to be seen in all the photos. The culmination of evolution.

by R and B

Incredible....the pictures are the best I have seen of these creatures...and the presentation of the information a stroke of genius. Thanks for bringing all of this to my doorstep! love to you both..

by Sharron

Thankful to Darwin and all the other visionaries who at personal risk challenged the ruling ideologies of their time to help us evolve.

by The Vickerage

Wow...those tortoises are so old and yet appear to be in such good kip.?

by Catherine

You have a wonderful blog and it was very nice to meet you at the Galapagos islands. Greetings, Florian

by Florian Lassan

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