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Oceanic islands

A view of Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. Many oceanic islands, including Mauritius, were formed as hot-spot volcanoes:...Read More >>A view of Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. Many oceanic islands, including Mauritius, were formed as hot-spot volcanoes: points where magma rises up through cracks in the Earth’s crust and erupts on the ocean floor. Cut off from the continental land masses by stretches of ocean water, islands often have a range of plant and animal life that is uniquely their own. Some islands were once part of a larger land mass, while others are formed by underwater volcanoes rising from the ocean floor. As soon as an island forms, it begins to be colonized by plants and animals. Islands close to the main­land are colonized more quickly than remote ones.



The coconut palm is one of the few trees that can disperse their seeds over long distances. The large coconuts have a waterproof...Read More >>The coconut palm is one of the few trees that can disperse their seeds over long distances. The large coconuts have a waterproof outer coating that allows them to float for thousands of miles to remote islands.

Plants

Plant seeds can travel across the oceans. They rely on the wind or water to carry them to islands. Seeds can also be carried in the fur or feathers of animals, or even in their digestive systems. The light seeds of small plants can travel further on the winds than those of large trees, so there are sometimes few, if any, trees on the most remote islands. But these small plants may, over many years, evolve into larger ones.

In 1835 Charles Darwin's observations of the differences in related types of finches on the Galapagos Islands helped him develop his theory of evolution.

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