Wednesday, November 04, 2009

600 miles into the Pacific lies the Ecuadorian archipelago called the Galapagos

Brazil map from memory
Originally uploaded by Nad
1853: the HMS Beagle is mapping the coast of South America for England. The captain has added Charles Darwin, a young naturalist (U of Edinburgh, Cambridge U), to his staff.

They pass round Cape Horn via the Magellan Strait, past Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

On the volcanic Galapagos Islands the captain and Darwin spend 5 weeks observing, sketching and catching examples of the amazing fauna. There are giant tortoises, marine iguanas, finches, beetles and other insects.

The journey of the 3-masted sloop, the Beagle, continues on a
circumnavigation that consumes 5 years.

Twenty years of research and consideration pass before Darwin published his revolutionary Origin of the Species. His theory of natural selection is controversial - but eventually convincing to the scientific community.

Thus we see a South American archipelago with an unusual impact on science and the world.