Above: A Galápagos finch

During his voyage, Charles Darwin famously failed to realize the significance of the different beaks of the various Galápagos finches. He visited the archipelago for five weeks in 1835, but it was not until he got back to London that it occurred to him that the finches might originally have been the same species, and that their beaks had evolved in response to the different foods available on the widely separated islands. Darwin’s account of his time in theGalápagos Islandsin “The Voyage of the Beagle” is consequently rather matter-of-fact. He certainly had no idea that the small, drab birds he was collecting were going to revolutionize the science of biology.

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