The Origin of a Species

  • Henry Nicholls
Part of the Macmillan Science book series (MACSCI)


Lonesome George’s enclosure is a grand affair, clearly designed for the crème de la tortoise crème. He (and his female co-habitees) have free rein over a comfortable area of the research station. There is plenty of vegetation in which George can find the privacy he evidently seeks, tree-like cacti, a shelter which he uses during the hot season and a large pool wherein he is free to bathe (should he wish to venture out into the open). And at some distance, his fans — the tourists — skirt respectfully around. They peer into the undergrowth, their cameras poised should they be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the world’s most famous giant tortoise.


Indian Ocean Land Bridge Freak Wave Remote Island Continental Island 
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Notes and sources

  1. George’s feeding routine: Roslyn Cameron, personal communication; Joe Flanagan, personal communication; see also ‘The story of Lonesome George’:
  2. ’such big tortoises that each could carry a man on top of himself’: de Berlanga (1535)Google Scholar
  3. Debate surrounding tortoise origins: Larson (2001)Google Scholar
  4. Beebe’s experiments with the Duncan Island tortoise: Beebe (1923, 1924)Google Scholar
  5. ‘In spite of frequent slipping it kept obstinately ahead …’: Beebe (1924)Google Scholar
  6. ‘After we had handled it a few times …’: Beebe (1924)Google Scholar
  7. ‘When placed in the water alongside the ship …’: Beebe (1923)Google Scholar
  8. ‘I could see the throat vibrate in breathing …’: Beebe (1924)Google Scholar
  9. ‘A week later this tortoise died without warning’: Beebe (1924)Google Scholar
  10. Albert Günther’s early ideas about tortoise origins: Günther (1875)Google Scholar
  11. George Baur’s thinking on tortoise origins: Baur (1889, 1890, 1891a, 1891b)Google Scholar
  12. ‘The Galápagos originated through subsidence …’: Baur (1891a)Google Scholar
  13. ‘All hands are anxious to leave as soon as possible …’: see Fritts and Fritts (1982)Google Scholar
  14. ‘They would occasionally stick their heads out of water …’: see Fritts and Fritts (1982)Google Scholar
  15. California Academy lose and then recover two tortoises from the ocean: see Fritts and Fritts (1982)Google Scholar
  16. ‘When they drift on island shores …’: Van Denburgh (1914)Google Scholar
  17. ‘We must rather adopt the view that the islands …’: Van Denburgh (1914)Google Scholar
  18. ‘may arrive, after a passage of several weeks, at the bay of an island …’: Lyell (1830)Google Scholar
  19. Colnett’s observation of driftwood: Colnett (1798)Google Scholar
  20. ‘driftwood, not the growth of these islands …’: Fitzroy (1839)Google Scholar
  21. ‘the seeds of 14/100 plants of any country …’: Darwin (1859)Google Scholar
  22. ‘I do not deny that there are many and grave difficulties …’: Darwin (1859)Google Scholar
  23. ‘I have not found a single instance …’: Darwin (1859)Google Scholar
  24. Mayotte island frogs: Vences et al. (2003)Google Scholar
  25. ‘I am in perfect agreement with Van Denburgh…’: Beebe (1924)Google Scholar
  26. ‘It is pertinent to inquire, why was it so little used?’: Townsend (1925a)Google Scholar
  27. ‘it is inconceivable that various forms of living flotsam …’: Townsend (1925a)Google Scholar
  28. ‘The ancestry of the island tortoises …’: Townsend (1925a)Google Scholar
  29. Yale analysis of tortoise origins: Caccone et al. (1999); Adalgisia Caccone, personal communicationGoogle Scholar
  30. Dodo weight: Maddox (1993)Google Scholar
  31. Elephant bird size: Line (1994)Google Scholar
  32. Australian tiger snakes: Keogh et al. (2005); Scott Keogh, personal communicationGoogle Scholar
  33. Haast’s eagle: Bunce et al. (2005)Google Scholar
  34. Goliath the giant tortoise: Gerlach (1998); Greg Moss, personal communicationGoogle Scholar
  35. The case for floating giant tortoises: Pritchard (1979)Google Scholar
  36. Timeframe of giant tortoise evolution: Caccone et al. (1999); Beheregaray et al. (2004)Google Scholar
  37. Drowned islands: Christie et al. (1992)Google Scholar
  38. Iguana evolution: Wyles and Sarich (1984); Rassmann (1997)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry Nicholls 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Nicholls

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