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New giant tortoise species discovered in the Galapagos Islands

Endemic Species in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are considered by biologists one of the world’s most pristine “natural laboratories,” where some of the most fascinating life can be observed in its purest forms. It is here, in the varied and unique ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands, isolated in the Pacific Ocean by more than 600 miles from the mainland, that many endemic species thrive.

Unlike the many native species in the Galapagos Islands, which can be seen here and in other parts of the world, the Galapagos endemic species only live in the Galapagos Islands, with some species that are exclusive to just one island. These endemic Galapagos species can’t be seen anywhere else on the planet.

How did they get to the Galapagos Islands?

If you’re wondering how animals (those that couldn’t swim or fly, of course) first arrived to the Galapagos Islands, you’re not alone. The definitive origin of species on the Galapagos Islands is still a mystery, but the prevailing theory is that the first animals arrived to the Galapagos on rafts of vegetation that floated from the mainland.

While many of these rafts likely sank in the Pacific and others washed up on the Galapagos shores without any animal survivors, ecologists posit that only a few hearty individuals of each species would have had to survive on these rafts in order to establish life here, since the lava-based soil is extremely fertile and conducive to plant life and there are no natural predators.