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The Galapagos Island Tortoise - Essay Example

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The Galapagos Tortoise are the largest living breed of tortoises in the world. They inhabit the nine islands of the Galapagos archipelago. While Charles Darwin was the first to research these animals, they were actually discovered by a Spanish explorer in the 1500’s. …
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The Galapagos Island Tortoise
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Download file to see previous pages The Galapagos Tortoise are the largest living breed of tortoises in the world. They inhabit the nine islands of the Galapagos archipelago. While Charles Darwin was the first to research these animals, they were actually discovered by a Spanish explorer in the 1500’s. “Galapago” means tortoise in Spanish and most likely derives from the word saddle. The Galapagos turtles have a distinctive shell that is in the shape of a saddle. The size of these creatures is what sets them apart from other species. The adults can weigh over 660 lbs while they are approximately 4 feet long. Scientists have not figured out a maximum life expectancy for the tortoise however they are expected to live around 200 years. They are believed to belong to one species called Geochelone elephantopus, with approximately 14 different sub speciesThe arrival of the Galapagos tortoises is thought to be descended from a common ancestor that arrived from the mainland. They are capable floating quite easily on the water. Scientists believe that the original colonist of tortoise washed aboard one island then its descendants were dispersed around the other islands-floating on the ocean currents. In the 1600’s buccaneers used the Galapagos Islands as a home port to repair their boats before attacking Spanish colonies on the South American mainland. They collected the tortoises and stored them aboard their ships because they lived for a long while. They were eaten as a source of food as well as killed for their turtle oil. The early settlers hunted them for their meat up through the 1800’s. ...
If they
feel threatened by another animal, they withdraw its head, neck and forelimbs into its
shell for protection. Sometimes this is not enough as the top of their shell opening can
leave a gap. Originally, this was never an issue because there were no native predators
on the Galapagos Islands. It is only when settlers introduced domesticated animals that
went wild that they became susceptible. And of course, they were hunted by the settlers
for food. The conservation efforts of the tortoise populations still face challenges today.
Rats, dogs, and pigs eat the eggs and young tortoises. Goats are in direct competition
with them when acquiring food so many of them devastate the vegetation. Also, cattle,
donkeys, and horses trample the ground squashing the tortoises nests. Efforts have been
made to safeguard tortoises nests. One such example is that eggs are collected in the wild
and incubated at the Charles Darwin Research Station. After they hatched, they would
remain under vigil until they were large enough to fend off attacks from rats, dogs, and
pigs. There have also been campaigns to eradicate the wild animals that pose a threat to
the tortoise.
These methods of preserving the giant tortoises have worked really well as it
is predicted that only 120 turtles have been killed over the last 17 years. With all the
work that has been put into the effort to keep the main attraction of the Galapagos islands
from becoming extinct, there is still more work to be done. Many of the animals that are
not native to the island should be removed in the effort to keep the these fascinating
turtles alive and well.
When Charles Darwin made a trip to the Galapagos Islands, he found a huge ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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