How did the animals and the plants arrive?

The first species of the flora and fauna were carried here by the winds and ocean currents. The great majority came from the coasts of South and Central America.

Galapagos: paradise of reptiles

Vegetation rafts from the continent would take a minimum of two weeks to reach Galapagoes. Only those species capable of with standing the lack of water, such as reptiles, could survive this journey. In the absence of mammalian predators and competitors, reptiles such as the tortoises and land iguanas thrived and became the dominant land animals.

Amphibians, such as frogs, that have a moist and sensitive skin, live very little time without freshwater and shade. Amphibians do not occur in the Archipelagos; if one had been trapped on a natural raft it would have died long before reaching the islands.

After arrival, there were many difficulties.

The pioneer species had to find a place to live, find a mate and raise young. Very few were successful. Those able to adapt faced a new and fascinating process of natural selection.

Why are the plants and animals of Galapagos different from those on the mainland?

Evolution, or change in the form and behavior of species, obeys the necessity of adaptation to a new environment. Only those most fit can survive; the less fit are eliminated. This dramatic process is known as natural selection. The evolution of species, as a consequence of natural selection, makes it possible that, from generation to generation, favorable characteristics are transmitted that permits a better adaptation. For this reason, the organisms that now inhabit the islands are very different from their main land ancestors.


The first conquest

Rough and steaming hot rocks, remote and isolated without any sign of life, were the original landscape of the islands. Later, after thousands of years, seeds so frivolous that they were able to travel with the wind, fell on a crevice with enough humidity and germinated. This was how the magical start of life on Galapagos began.

Pioneer species, capable of living practically without water, like cacti y lichens, prepared the land for hundreds of unique plants and animals that today populate the islands.

Cactus and Plants

Rising to a height of over 900 m Santiago is large enough for an endemic subspecies of giant tortoise to have evolved, although you are unlikely to see it at the visitor sites. more

Cealthins Daulfins

The vast lava flows of six major and numerous smaller volcanoes have uplifted and joined over a millions of years to form what is now the island of Isabela.more

The air and the water were the means for conquering the distance separating Galapagos from the continent.

The seeds of coastal plants resistant to salt water, like the mangroves, floated to Galapagos.
The ancestors of the sea lion and the penguin-and the majority of marine life – arrived with the help of ocean currents.

Other animals, such as the ancestors of the iguanas and the tortoises, could have come on large tree trunks or floating masses of vegetation.
The seabirds flew to the islands.
Seeds and insects could have been carried by the wind or have arrived stuck to the feathers or fur of larger animals.


The esternmost Galapagos island is also one of the oldest an eroded volcano rising gently to moist highlands nearly 900 m above sea level. Several endemic species and subspecies have evolved on San Cristobal,more