A Tale of Two Turtles
If London’s Natural History Museum held hide-and-seek contests, Charles Darwin’s pet tortoise would be a champion. The naturalist’s carapaced companion, plucked from the Galapagos and brought all the way back to England, managed to remain hidden in the museum’s collections for over 170 years. Not that the credit can really go to the reptile. Darwin’s tortoise died long ago. The chelonian’s crypsis had more to do with misdirection and rumor.
Henry Nicholls recounted the story for the Guardian on the 205th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. During the famous voyage of the Beagle, Nicholls pointed out, several tortoises were spared from the dinner table and made the return voyage with the crew. Among the tortoises