|See our Java Voyage
||H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Robert
Fizroy, left for Patagonia, South America, in 1831 with Charles
Darwin on board. At this time Charles did not believe in
evolution, including his grandfather’s theory, as he could
not be convinced by any evidence presented sofar.
Lamarck’s failure also added to Charles’ disbelief, and
furthermore Charles’ hero, Lyell, was a firm rejector of the
possibility of evolution.
The Beagle reached South America in 1832 and Charles took care to observe the flora and fauna. Along his journey he also examined fossils with Lyell’s theories still in mind. Charles noticed during his long voyage down the South American coast that there was a constant change in the variety of organisms he saw. He noted that birds he observed on the west coast were quite different to those on the east, though they were obviously related. Even as he moved up the coast, species of birds appeared slightly different to each other.
Darwin was most interested in the plants and animals on the Galápagos, a group of 16 large islands (and many smaller) off the coast of Ecuador. Remarkable giant tortoises inhabit every one of the islands which gave the island chain its name, from the Spanish Galápagos, meaning tortoise. Still, each island has its own type of tortoise, distinguishable by the shape and pattern of its shell. Darwin was astonished that the islanders felt that this was due to the difference in environment on each island.
Other birds catching Darwin’s eye were the finches, which varied in size and shape from island to island. Their beaks also varied depending on which food they ate and some even had extra long tongues for grabbing certain types of foods such as insects, nuts or seeds.
Darwin’s knowledge of geology confirmed that the islands were of volcanic origin and that they were far younger than the mainland. Island animals and plants were different to those on the mainland but a relationship could be seen. What was even stranger though, to Darwin, was the fact that organisms on different islands varied, but still seemed related. Were they of separate, individual creations or had they, sometime in the past, changed by other means?
|Your say: What is your opinion on evolution?|
|A look at plant and animal life especially adapted to its surroundings.|