28th October 1835

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal
Reflections following the visit to the Galapagos (5)
It is rather curious, and a striking instance of the short-sightedness of some men, who think themselves keener in discrimination than most others, that these tortoises should have excited such remarks as—"well, these reptiles never could have migrated far, that is quite clear," when, in simple truth, there is no other animal in the whole creation so easily caught, so portable, requiring so little food for a long period, and at the same time so likely to have been carried, for food, by the aborigines who probably visited the Galapagos Islands on their balsas, or in large double canoes, long before Columbus saw that twinkling light, which, to his mind, was as the keystone to an arch. Honest Dampier immediately reverted to the tortoises of the West Indies, and of Madagascar, when he saw those of the Galapagos. He had observed too many varieties caused by climate, soil, food, and habits, to entertain a doubt of their being other than a variety of the tortoise kind. As to the 'guanoes' they were, to his eye, familiar objects.

No comments: