The Voyage of the Beagle Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Describe the beginning of Darwin's trip around the world.

St. Jago (Sao Tiago), the primary island in the Cape de Verd group located to the west of Africa, is the starting point where Darwin notes that few wild creatures other than grasshoppers and lizards inhabit the hills and valleys, the latter filling with water during torrential downpours.

2. What does Darwin surmise about the geology of St. Jago?

Darwin comments on the island geology that, although mostly volcanic, has a band of chalk which must have formed in the ocean and been covered with basalt from the volcano. He notices places the chalk has been changed into limestone and a curious spotted mineral, possibly the result of high heat from the lava floes.

3. At the first stop after Sao Jago, what are Darwin's observations?

The Beagle sets sail across the Atlantic, navigating close to St. Paul's Rocks, about 600 miles east of Brazil. Darwin notes the volcanic origins of the rocks and islets, their low height above sea level and the whiteness due to many years of bird guano deposits that turn very hard over time. He sees only two kinds of birds, the booby and noddy.

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