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Voyages: Scientific Circumnavigations 1679 to 1859
Voyage of the Beagle 1832-1836

Geospiza magnirostris.
(Charles and Chatham Islands,
Galapagos Archipelago)

from John Gould's The Zoology of the Voyage
of H.M.S. Beagle. Part III: Birds.
London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1841


Perhaps no place visited by Darwin is more renowned than the Galapagos Islands off the northwest coast of South America. He remarked in his journal:

"The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable; it seems to be a little world within itself; the greater number of its inhabitants, both vegetable and animal, being found nowhere else."

Of the birds, he wrote:

"There are twenty-six different species of land birds. With the exception of one, all probably are undescribed kinds, which inhabit this archipelago and no other part of the world."

Among the new species were thirteen finches.

"These birds are the most singular of any in the archipelago… It is very remarkable that a nearly perfect gradation of structure in this group can be traced in the form of a beak, from one exceeding in dimensions that of the largest gros-beak, to another differing but little from that of a warbler."


The Beagle sailed with a two-fold mission. Captain Robert Fitzroy was to survey the southern coasts of South America and Tierra del Fuego; and to make precise readings of longitude at predetermined sites around the globe, using a dazzling array of twenty-two marine chronometers on board. Yet it would be the young naturalist of the expedition, Charles Darwin, who would make the voyage famous.


Darwin: Page 1 of 3.
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