This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Longevity Of Galapagos Islands Giant Tortoises

1037 words - 4 pages

Some people would love to live for over 100 years. Why this may not always be possible for humans, it is quite common for the Galapagos giant tortoises. The oldest reported giant tortoise is believed to have been Harriet, who is estimated to have been at least 176 years old when she died in 2006 while on display at the Australia Zoo in Brisbane, Australia. Handpicked by Charles Darwin himself when she was approximately five years old, even he could not have imagined the possibility of her outliving her human caretakers to such a degree (Franklin 45). Her longevity however, is not unique. The giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands have repeatedly demonstrated an increased lifespan due to their unique body structure, diet, and lifestyle.
The Galapagos Islands provide a habitat to one of only two known remaining groups of giant tortoises in existence today (Alderton 151). Scientists speculate that smaller tortoises drifted to the Galapagos Islands where they found plentiful vegetation and practically no indigenous predators. Over time they evolved into the humble, lumbering giants that exist today. The phenomenon of gigantism evolution is seen in many island ecosystems where there is no need to hide from predators and no competition for food (Orenstein 108). This lack of predation would not last forever. In the nineteenth century the Galapagos Islands were frequented by sailors and fishermen who coveted the fresh meat available in abundance from the giant tortoises. They were prized for their quantity and ability to be stored for months on end without food or water (Hoagstrom 1623). This adaptability for drought stricken times could be a direct link to their evolution of body structure and greatly enhance their capacity for longer lives.
According to Franklin, and perhaps their most distinguishing feature, a tortoises’ shell is composed of three major sections. The upper part of the shell is known as the carapace. Connecting the carapace to the plastron, the bottom half of the shell, is the bridge. The shell’s main function is for protection and its shape is unique to the type of individual tortoise species. The Galapagos’ tortoise derives its name from early Spanish explorers who compared the islands and the saddle shape of the tortoise’s shell to Galapago, a particular Spanish term for a saddle with an upturned front (Franklin 14, 127). As an indication of their potential, they have been known to weigh up to 250 kg and have a measurement of the curve of their carapace (top of shell) over 150 cm. (Jackson 102). Male tortoises are typically even larger than the female gender (Franklin 126). Tortoises’ limbs are heavily scaled and resemble huge ponderous columns used to support its heavy body. They are very functional for their terrestrial lifestyle. Although a tortoise has a reputation for being slow and lumbering, they can increase their speed to some degree and cover quite a distance in a relative amount of time.
A tortoise breathes by...

Find Another Essay On Longevity of Galapagos Islands Giant Tortoises


1488 words - 6 pages inhabiting the island. "The planned Isabela goat removal is no less than a battle to save the Galapagos' largest remaining population of giant tortoises, an icon of the famous archipelago 965 kilometers off Ecuador's coast" (Jocelyn Kaiser, 2001). Survival of the fittest will always win this type of game unless people interfere, which normally happens.The islands are bountiful in different types of beautiful vegetation for all to see, but these

Galapagos Islands And Madagascar - Similarities And Differences

578 words - 2 pages very similar and simple. They both have turtles and tortoises like the gains tortoise and the green sea turtle. They both have lizards like the lava lizard. But Madagascar has skinks, inquanids, snakes, and crocodiles. And the Galapagos Islands have iguanas. In conclusion, as they are on different sides of the world the Galapagos Islands and Madagascar have many similarities and differences. Both with a large amount of unique plants and animals. They both show evidence of evolution over time. But have different climates and animals. Works Cited

Tortoises of the world

1551 words - 6 pages and five hundred and fifty-nine pounds.Certainly most tortoises, with their ability to move held back by their big shells are slow. The Desert Tortoise moves at speeds of zero point thirteen to zero point three miles per hour. The Galapagos Giant Tortoise was clocked at four miles per day.When tortoises mate it typically consists of some head bobbing, the male butting and biting the female to immobilize her, and finally mounting her shell from

The Galapagos Islands

2000 words - 8 pages detrimentally threaten the natural wildlife, are a prominent cause of the decline of the biodiversity in the island habitats. The first entrance of invasive species in the Galapagos began in 1535, when Fray Tomás de Berlanga, a Spanish bishop of Panama, was exploring the coast of Ecuador. His ship was blown off course and he landed in the Galapagos Islands. Other mariners arrived with him and began hunting whales, and wrote about eating tortoises

Geography of Ecuador

882 words - 4 pages country it has four really diverse sub regions. The Costa is where you would want to visit if you were on vacation if you like warm swimming places and shrimp. The Sierra is where you would want to visit if you like skiing or snow-capped volcanoes. The Oriente is where you would go if you like the rainforest. The Galapagos Islands is where you would go if you liked isolated desert islands with unique species like swimming iguanas and giant tortoises


844 words - 3 pages unique, each island has a different purpose. Some Islands that are tall get a lot of rainfall, islands that were small or low had a climate that was very hot or dry. The Isabela Island had a numerous amount of rich vegetation that animals like tortoises could easily reach. While I was sailing back home, I had noticed that birds I collected from the Galapagos Islands had different features. I observed that animals of the same species varied from island

evolution of camoflouge

730 words - 3 pages looking along the coasts of South America, the ship stopped at Galapagos Islands. During his stay on the islands, he observed the finches and tortoises on each island. He noticed that the finches and tortoises were different on each island. Each island had its own type of finch which were closely related but differed in important way. The finches’ beaks had key differences. The warbler finch had a thin, sharp beak used for spearing insects. Ground

The Galapagos Islands

1773 words - 7 pages The Galapagos Islands, located about 600 miles west of continental Ecuador, contain a rich history of settlement and exploration and represent a living example of evolution that is still relevant today. For centuries, this chain of volcanic islands has been used uniquely by various cultures based off distinct needs. What has remained the same however is the fact that island isolation has forced many animal and plant species to adapt differently

Evolution and Charles Darwin´s Natural Selection

830 words - 4 pages to their environments. According to his research, there were tortoises with elongated necks, that lived in areas with food that was higher in the air then in other places(Darwin). This is what one would take as an example of an adaptation, an adaptation being a feature that allows an organism to better survive in it’s environment. Darwin’s investigation into evolution began when he trekked to the Galapagos Islands, where he would gather

The Life Of Charles Darwin

2547 words - 10 pages much smaller species, both of were similar to but different from the African ostrich.He had been concerned by the fact that the birds and tortoises of the Galapagos Islands off the western coast of Ecuador tended to resemble species found on the nearby continent, while animals of similar neighboring islands in the Galapagos had different animal populations. In London Darwin learned that the finches he had brought from the Galapagos belonged to

galapagos islands

958 words - 4 pages Charles Darwin an English naturalist and geologist discovered several species of finches on the Galapagos Islands during his second voyage on the HMS Beagle in (1831). The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands which compose thirteen main islands and six smaller isles. The vast majority of these finches varied from island to island. Darwin was fascinated on the large variety of the finches and how they differed from one another

Similar Essays

The Harvesting Of Sea Cucumbers In The Galapagos Islands

1654 words - 7 pages sea cucumber, fishermen set their sights first to Ecuador's Pacific coast in 1988, and then to the Galapagos in early 1992. (Cohn, 1996) The Galapagos is a cluster of volcanic islands that belongs to the province of Ecuador. The islands are located 600 miles from the coast of South America. The islands were named "Galapagos" after one of its inhabitants, the giant tortoise or galapagos. The bishop of Panama, Tomás de Berlanga, happened upon

Depletion Of The Sea Cucumber Population In The Galapagos Islands

1638 words - 7 pages Depletion of the Sea Cucumber Population in the Galapagos IslandsElizabeth FoxIntroductionOne thousand kilometers off the Ecuadorian coastline lies the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the home to one of the world's most unique ecosystems. The Galapagos Marine Reserve covers an area about 51,000 square miles. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is measured by a 40 nautical mile radius from each of the outer islands. Within this large area around 2,900 marine

Physical Attributes And Atmosphere Of Galapagos Islands. Speaks Of Mellville And Darwin

968 words - 4 pages During the nineteenth century, two prominent writers, Herman Melville and Charles Darwin both voyaged to the Galapagos islands off the coast of Ecuador. Both of these individuals wrote descriptive passages about the physical attributes and atmosphere of the Galapagos Islands. The passages vary in specific content due to the intentions and interests of the respective authors, even though the object described is the same. Charles Darwin, best

Diversity In The Galapagos Islands Essay

1058 words - 5 pages another animal on the Galapagos Island. They got to the Galapagos Islands by leaving the continents that they lived on and floated from island to island until reaching the Galapagos Islands. They are one of the two groups of giant tortoise left in the world. The other group is on Aldabra Atoll which live in the Indian Ocean. Scientists believe they arrived on the Galapagos two to three million years ago. There are two types of the Galapagos