Galapagos Islands

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Galapagos Islands

a group of 15 islands in the Pacific Ocean situated on the equator some 900 miles west of Ecuador. In 1835, Charles DARWIN visited the islands during his voyage on the Beagle and the fauna particularly influenced his views on evolution. According to his theory GEOGRAPHICAL ISOLATION has influenced divergence of different forms so that, for example, DARWIN'S FINCHES have all probably evolved from a common ancestor, and now occupy numerous niches on the islands due to the absence of competition from other birds. Marine iguanas and giant tortoises are other interesting animals found there, and in the absence of palms and conifers, the normally small prickly-pear cactus has reached tree-like proportions.