52. Galapagos 4 - The Giant TortoiseOctober 16, 2019 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F
"Galapago" is an old Spanish word for a saddle similar in shape to a tortoise shell, so it is no surprise that the Giant Tortoise is the most famous of the 20 endemic reptile species on the islands.
The tortoises are not fully grown until age 100, living to about 160 years old, and weighing up to 550 pounds. In keeping with Darwin's Theory of Evolution, which purports that creatures will evolve physically to adapt to the environment in which they must survive, the shell of the tortoise reveals which island the tortoise came from.
The saddle shaped shell tortoise lives in an arid climate, where the tortoise must lift its head to reach vegetation, whereas the semicircular domed shell indicates the tortoise is from a lush island with lower vegetation.
Multi-taskers take note: apparently the tortoises slow languid lifestyle is what allows them to live so long. Hmmmm...
The tortoise population has plummeted from 250,000 (BH - before humans), to about 20,000 now. Sailors used to be the main culprit, taking them for fresh meat on long journeys, as it could take as much as a year for a tortoise to starve to death. The threat is now limited to "introduced species", like pigs and cats that disturb nests and eggs, and goats and cattle that compete for food supply.Read more