Galapagos Wildlife

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Giant Tortoises

Giant tortoises live up to their name as the world’s largest tortoise and one of the remaining two groups of giant tortoises. Outside of their claim to fame, they lead a pretty quiet life sleeping or resting for an average of 16 hours a day. Giant tortoises arrived to Galapagos two to three million years ago and have since adapted to the environment—capable of surviving for a year without food or water thanks to their slow metabolism and ability to store water. When they are active, giant tortoises adapt to the weather by being active midday in the cool season and in the early morning and late afternoon in the hot season.

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Nazca boobies

Though not as recognizable as their blue-footed relative, Nazca boobies are a fascinating species. In the mating dance, called skypointing, the male angles his beak to the sky. The female follows, confirming the mating and the future location of the nest. Nazca boobies also practice siblicide. The first chick to hatch attacks the second, pushing it out of the nest. The parents don’t intervene so the second chick dies of starvation.

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Darwin's Finches

Darwin’s finches may not actually be a part of the finch family, but they are an important part of his theory of evolution. By studying the birds’ differently-shaped and sized beaks used to catch, crack, and crush a range of prey, Darwin understood how species adapt to their local environments over generations. He discovered distinct species—now totaling 13—and their respective traits on different islands of the Galapagos.