On September 15, 1835, English naturalist Charles Darwin and the crew of the HMS Beagle arrived in the Galapagos Islands. These volcanic islands are located west of Ecuador, along the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. Darwin traveled there as part of a five-year journey to study plants and animals along the coast of South America.
Darwin collected and documented a dazzling array of species in the Galapagos. He studied these organisms when he returned home. Eventually, Darwin focused his study on his collection of finches, a species of small bird. The finches were very similar, but had beaks of different sizes and shapes. Darwin theorized that the beaks were adaptations that helped each species of finch eat a different type of food, such as seeds, fruits, or insects.
Darwin’s study of the plants and animals of the Galapagos was integral to his theory of natural selection, a part of the larger process of evolution.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry adaptation Noun
a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence. An adaptation is passed from generation to generation.
Encyclopedic Entry: adaptation array Noun
hard, protruding jaws of a bird.
edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: coast document Verb
to keep track of.
imaginary line around the Earth, another planet, or star running east-west, 0 degrees latitude.
Encyclopedic Entry: equator evolution Noun
process of how present types of organisms developed from earlier forms of life.
material, usually of plant or animal origin, that living organisms use to obtain nutrients.
Encyclopedic Entry: food integral Adjective
voyage or trip.
person who studies the natural history or natural development of organisms and the environment.
natural selection Noun
process by which organisms that are better adapted to their environment produce more offspring.
to formulate and propose a group of ideas to explain a scientific question.
volcanic island Noun
land formed by a volcano rising from the ocean floor.