The Galapagos Islands, off the west coast of Ecuador, are a treasure trove of unique ecological specimens. The islands’ extreme isolation and favorable climate owning to its location on the equator have allowed a number of species to evolve peculiar characteristics suitable to their environment. The iguana, for instance, is a land-dwelling reptile. But those on the islands of Galapagos have learned how to swim and can now forage for food in the sea. Equally perplexing are the flightless cormorants, that have lost the ability to fly and are thus confined to the islands. Stranger still are the Galapagos penguins, that unlike their southern cousins, have learned to love the endless summers on this tropical paradise. But the star attraction are the giant tortoises, with their hulking grey shells and enormous lifespan. They are one of the best known inhabitants of the Galapagos.
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The Galapagos giant tortoise. Photo credit: Niccie King/Flickr