Charles Darwin’s presence in the Galapagos Islands isn’t just reserved for geographic features and places. Almost 80 species of flora and fauna he had collected are also named for him.
Here are four of the Darwinian species to keep an eye out for while you are in the Galapagos Islands.
The most famous Galapagos animal named for Charles Darwin are the Darwin’s Finches. Thirteen species of this finch exist in the Galapagos Islands (and another species in the Cocos Islands off the coast of Costa Rica). These small birds are distinguished by beak shape and diet. Darwin’s Finches appear all over the archipelago. The most endangered is the Mangrove Finch of Isabela Island, now being bred in captivity in a program supported by the Charles Darwin Research Station, Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Conservancy.
Darwin’s cotton (Gossypium darwinii) is a common plant on many of the islands in the Galapagos archipelago. The plant has hand-shaped leaves and red stems, with crepe paper-textured flowers that are yellow with a crimson spot in the center. The fluffy seed pod looks like common cotton.
Santiago Galapagos Tortoise
The once-endangered Santiago Galapagos Tortoise (Chelonoidis darwini) is now a common sight on Santiago Island. This is due to a successful breeding program the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galapagos National Park have had to revive this species of giant tortoise. Over a thousand of this tortoise species have been released on their home island.
Honors to Charles Darwin aren’t just limited to the land. While exploring the Galapagos Islands’ underwater world, you may have a chance to encounter even more species named for Mr. Darwin. Keep an eye out for red-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini), Pacific red sheepshead (Paraliparis darwini), sea pens (Cavernulina darwini) and Gorgonian soft coral (Pacifigorgia darwinii).
And elsewhere on Planet Earth
Species named for Charles Darwin aren’t just limited to the Galapagos Islands. Wherever he roamed during HMS Beagle’s five year mission, he also left a trail of fauna and flora that bear his name.
About 250 species worldwide are named for this English naturalist, including Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) and Darwin’s rhea (Rhea pennata), both native to the Patagonia of Chile and Argentina.
Do you have a favourite species named for Darwin? Let us know in the comments below.