Darwin’s Discovery

In 1831, an English naturalist  named Charles Darwin boarded a ship called the Beagle. He visited the Galápagos Islands. Darwin’s job was to collect and study animal, plant, and rock samples. He would become one of the world’s most famous scientists. He worked on the theory of evolution. It explains how living things change and develop over time in order to survive.

Darwin took many notes and kept a journal. They help us to know where he traveled and what he collected.

San Cristóbal mockingbird

Charles Darwin

Where They Traveled

The Beagle reached the Galápagos in 1835. Darwin visited four of the larger islands. San Cristóbal was first. The island is made up of four volcanoes. San Cristóbal’s dry, rocky coast surprised Darwin. Was there any life here? Yes. He found piles of marine iguanas and patches of desert plants. He also collected the first species to become the foundation of his theory, the San Cristóbal mockingbird.

Mockingbird Mystery

Floreana was the second island to be explored. Darwin collected more samples. These included the Floreana mockingbird. The differences between this bird and the one found on San Cristóbal persuaded Darwin to pay close attention to Galápagos birds.

Darwin met with fellow Englishman Nicholas Lawson. He was the acting governor for the island. Lawson told Darwin that he could identify which island a tortoise came from. He said each island’s tortoises were different.

female vegetarian finch

Floreana mockingbird

Darwin’s Longest Stay

Darwin stayed the longest on Santiago Island. Here, he saw what Lawson had described. The tortoises were different. The finches he collected all seemed different from each other, too. Each came from a different island. Darwin gave the samples to an expert in England. He found that they were different enough to justify at least 14 species.

small ground finch

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