Islas Galapagos were first visited by a European when the Spanish Bishop of Panama, Fray Tomás de Berlanga, was blown off course on his way to Peru in 1535 AD. No one paid much attention again to the isolated equatorial archipelago until 1835 when the HMS Beagle, with a young naturalist named Charles Darwin aboard, happened by while charting approaches to Pacific harbors. Darwin wandered about Charles Island and noted that the tortoises there differed from those on other islands in the chain. Once he could cut them up, Darwin also found, despite distinct variations, a single species of finches on the islands. Thus originated the Origin of the Species … and mankind’s understanding of just about everything biological (not to mention spiritual) would never be the same afterward.
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