The Galapagos Giant Tortoise is the land animal that gave the "official name" to these set of Islands.
There are 15 sub-species of Galapagos giant tortoises. Some prefer the upland zones of the large islands because of humidity, grassy pastures and small ponds to drink and stagger about.
Others prefer islands with low elevations, dry terrain, and with lots of prickly vegetation like cactus. The largest populations are found in Alcedo Volcano on Isabela Island, and in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.
Group of Galapagos Tortoises
The Galapagos giant tortoise keep growing for 30 or 40 years to almost 5 feet (1.5 m.) and weigh about 500 pounds (230 kg).
It is worth mentioning that no one knows exactly how long the Galapagos tortoises live, but it seems they can easily reach 150 years!
Shells Can Tell.- Giant Galapagos tortoises come in three versions, according to habitat:
Galapagos Giant Tortoise
These patterns were crucial in showing Charles Darwin that different habitats allowed different versions of animals to thrive and evolve (over time) into new species.
The Galapagos Governor, in fact, told Darwin that tortoises with long necks are mostly found in Islands that are quite dry and with cacti as the predominant plant.
At that time, that simple fact didn't tell Darwin much, but that same simple fact is the one used in the Origin of Species.
Sometimes simple meanings can have complex applications.
The Pacific Green Sea Turtle also calls Galapagos home. It has a flatter, more streamlined shell.
Among turtles is the fastest and can swim, briefly, at a speed of 20 miles (32km) per hour.
There's always controversy about using the terms tortoise and turtle.
But, their definition is based on the habitat where the animals live, animals that are mostly aquatic (like sea turtles) should be called turtles.
While animals that are mostly terrestrial should be called tortoises, like the "Galapagos tortoise".
This doesn't mean that either one never goes on land or water.
In fact, turtles have to go to land to lay eggs, and Galapagos giant tortoises go to the water for drinking and cooling off.
The difference relies in where animals spend most of their time. More about the Galapagos Tortoise
The term terrapin, which describes an animal somewhat aquatic, somewhat terrestrial has no use in Galapagos Islands.
Terrapins do not live here. Turtles and relatives are not only complex, but also fascinating in their distribution and evolutionary biology.
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