Today we saw Darwin?s classroom, finally exploring San Cristobal island after days of teasing from the sea lions we pass on the way to the conference center. Early in the morning we packed into open air trucks that took us to a tortoise preserve, along the way seeing some of the 300 or so plant species that have invaded the island over the past two centuries. Each island has its own species of tortoise, and it is rumored that one robust specimen, named Harriet, is still alive somewhere in Australia after having had a personal encounter with Charles Darwin himself. The animals typically live more than a century. A few decades ago, the San Cristobal tortoises were thought to be extinct. Then people discovered a group of about 50, then 100 more, and eventually 300 tortoises were collected, moved, and nurtured into the 2,000-strong population of today. We chanced upon...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?