THE LINDA HALL LIBRARY HISTORY OF SCIENCE COLLECTION
Voyage of the Beagle 1832-1836
There were two species
of lizards of the genus Amblyrhynchus. The aquatic lizard was
up to four feet long. The land lizard, shown in the plate, was
much smaller. It ate cactus and the leaves of the acacia tree.
Darwin explained how common they were on the islands
give a more forcible proof of their numbers, than by stating
that when we were left at James Island, we could not for some
time find a spot free from their burrows on which to pitch our
single tent." They did not bite, and "they slowly
crawl along with their tails and bellies dragging on the ground.
They often stop, and doze for a minute or two, with closed eyes
and hind legs spread out on the parched soil."
Darwin wrote of the
Galapagos, that the order of reptiles "gives the
most striking character to the zoology of these islands."
The tortoises, for which
the Spanish had named the archipelago, were very remarkable.
Some were so huge that Darwin "frequently got on their backs, and then giving
a few raps on the hind part of their shells, they would rise
up and walk away; but I found it very difficult to keep my balance."
Amblyrynchus Demarlii. [Iguana]
Bell's The Zoology of the Voyage of
H.M.S. Beagle. Edited by Charles Darwin. Part IV: Reptiles.
London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1843.