When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1835, he encountered a number of strange animals. There were the giant tortoises, some measuring more than four feet across and flightless cormorants. But the one animal that Darwin found most repulsive is also one of the most unique to the islands.
When he spied these ugly creatures, Darwin wrote:
The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft), disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them ‘imps of darkness’. They assuredly well become the land they inhabit.
If you haven’t guessed yet, Darwin was talking about the marine iguanas that were along the shoreline of the islands.
Measuring up to 3-6 feet long, the marine iguanas of the Galapagos Islands are definitely less colorful than most iguanas. They are nearly black in color with some darker gray on the back and white crusting on the face. The island shores are covered with black volcanic rocks and from a distance it’s hard to distinguish the iguanas from the landscape.
During the breeding season, some of the male marine iguanas on some of the southern islands turn red and greenish blue in color.
They are unique in the fact that they are the only iguanas anywhere in the world that dive into the oceans to feed. Marine iguanas can dive down to around 30 feet deep if necessary and spend up to half an hour feeding upon algae and various sea grasses.
While diving beneath the waves, the iguanas are able to slow their heart rate and metabolism down. This allows them to use less oxygen while feeding. They also have the ability to block some of the blood supply to skin, keeping it from cooling off too quickly. These two traits combined are what enables the iguanas to stay in the cold water as long as they do.
Since the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands are quite cold, the iguanas can’t stay submerged for too long or their bodies will get too cold to function. So after a hearty meal, the iguanas climb out onto the black rocks that have absorbed the warmth of the sun. The sunlight from above and the hot rocks beneath them, helps to warm their bodies back up to a comfortable temperature.
In the afternoon heat, the black rocks can actually heat up too much for the iguanas and easily cause them to get too hot and die. Once again we find a unique feature in the marine iguanas. They have a kind of shunt that sends the heated blood from their backs down to their bellies which are kept cooler by the breeze that comes off the cold waters.
Thus, the iguanas have special features to help keep them warmer in the cold ocean and cooler in the hot sun. And at night, they generally huddle together in groups to conserve body heat until the sun rises again the next morning.
Feeding underwater in the ocean also presents another major problem – the salt. Under normal circumstances, feeding in the salty ocean water would kill most land animals because the salt they would ingest. However, the iguanas have a special salt gland that takes the salt out of the water and food that they eat. As the salt is removed, it is expelled through the nostrils. When the iguanas are sitting on the beach, you can see them sneezing out the white salt. Some of the salt builds up around the nostrils giving the iguanas a crusty looking nose.
Evolutionists haven’t been able to come up with a good story to explain how the marine iguanas of the Galapagos Islands evolved all of their unique and special features that allows them to live and feed in what would otherwise be a hostile environment.
One theory is that their ancestors originally lived in a part of the island group that is now submerged. Once the islands sank back into the ocean, the iguanas evolved their traits in order to survive. But that doesn’t explain how they evolved the genetic information needed to code for the special traits in the first place, especially since no other iguana in the world seems to have them.
Perhaps Darwin was right when he referred to the Galapagos Island marine iguana as ‘imps of darkness’ because they cast very dark shadows on his theory of evolution. And like most things labeled imps, they create problems for evolutionists still today.
So when you look at all the special features of this unique lizard, you really have to marvel at God’s design, and wonder how Darwin failed to see the clear answers from the Bible—that God created them just right to live on these tiny remote islands.
2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Darwins birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book, Origin of Species. The Voyage that Shook the World retraces Darwins journey, exploring the places and discoveries crucial to the formulation of his Theory of Evolution.
Filmed in South America, UK, North America, Australia and Europe, The Voyage features dramatic period recreations and stunning nature cinematography interwoven with scholars sharing their perspectives on the man and the controversy.
A fascinating and thought-provoking opportunity to gain new insight into The Voyage that Shook the World.
Special features include:
- The making of The Voyage
- Extended interviews
- Directors introduction
- About CMI