Celebrating the Galápagos Islands – Today’s slideshow Doodle celebrates Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands, first made famous as a source of inspiration for Charles Darwin’s seminal theories of natural selection. Home to hundreds of unique species of plants and animals from green turtles to fur seals, the islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on this date in 1978.
The Galápagos archipelago, which straddles the equator some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, consists of 19 mostly uninhabited islands and countless islets, formed through volcanic and seismic activity over many millennia. Due to their unique geology and isolation, these Pacific islands are home to flora and fauna that can be found nowhere else on the planet, including the giant tortoise depicted first in today’s Doodle—the galápago is the largest living species of tortoise—along with the only penguin species that lives north of the Equator.
The islands are closely associated with British naturalist Charles Darwin, who arrived on the HMS Beagle in 1835 as part of a fateful journey around the world. Here, Darwin observed closely related but highly specialized species of wildlife, like finches with distinctive beaks specialized to their diets—memorialized today with the name “Darwin’s finches.”
It took Darwin over 20 years after he first observed the islands’ marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies to synthesize his observations into his groundbreaking theories of natural selection, published in “On the Origin of Species” in 1859.The fundamentals of his work remain a cornerstone of biological science to this day.
Early concepts and drafts of the Doodle
Individual slides from the Doodle
You can find more about Celebrating the Galápagos Islands on the official Google Doodle Page