The Galapagos Islands are noted as a home to many endemic species.
One of the best known is the Galapagos tortoise, which lives on seven of the islands. It has an average lifespan of more than 150 years.
The Marine Iguana is also extremely unusual, since it is the only iguana adapted to life in the water. Land iguanas, lava lizards, geckos and other harmless snakes can also be found in the Islands. The large number and range of birds is also of interest to scientists and tourists. Around 56 varieties live in the archipelago, of which 27 are found only in the Galapagos. Some of these are found only on one island.
The most outstanding are penguins, which live on the colder coasts, Darwin's finches, frigatebirds, albatrosses, gulls, boobies, pelicans and Galapagos Hawks, among others. The Flightless Cormorant, a peculiar bird which has lost the ability to fly, is also part of this rich fauna.
On the other hand, there are few mammal species, mostly sea mammals such as whales, dolphins and sea lions. A few species of endemic Galapagos mice (or Rice rats) - the Santiago Galapagos Mouse and the Fernandina Galapagos Mouse - have been recently rediscovered.
On the larger Galapagos Islands, four ecological zones have been defined: coastal, low or dry, transitional and humid. In the first, species such as myrtle, mangrove and saltbush can be found. In the second grow cactus, the incense tree, carob tree, poison apple tree, chala and yellow cordia, among others. In the transitional zone taller trees, epiphytes and perennial herbs can be seen. The best known varieties are the cat's claw, espuela de gallo. In the humid sector are the cogojo, Galapagos guava, cat's claw, Galapagos coffee, passionflower and some types of moss, ferns and fungus.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Galapagos fauna