galapagos volcano pink iguana ct hugo arnal intv_00002130.jpg
Galapagos volcano eruption threatens rare pink iguana
03:15 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Smoke spews six miles into the air

Mountain is home to world's only population of pink iguanas

Park service says tourism not threatened.

CNN  — 

Nature erupted in all its glory this week, spitting fire, spewing smoke 6 miles into the air and threatening a species on the islands where Charles Darwin first began to develop the theory of evolution.

Early Monday morning, the Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island – the highest volcano in the archipelago – erupted for the first time in 33 years, the Galapagos National Park service said.

The lava glowed orange through the night as it coursed down the mountainside.

World’s only pink iguanas

Wolf volcano, which rises more than 5,500 feet above the sea, is home to the world’s only population of pink iguanas, whose habitat is now threatened by the eruption. The pink iguanas share the mountain with yellow iguanas and giant tortoises.

The eruption, inspiring in its beauty, has created concern that the ecosystem Darwin studied may be damaged.

Darwin, an English naturalist, arrived in the islands in 1835 at the age of 26. His observations of different species in the archipelago’s rich ecosystem led him to develop the theory of natural selection – one he wrote about, most famously, in the book titled “On the Origin of Species,” published in 1859.

The Galapagos Islands straddle the equator 563 miles west of mainland Ecuador, to which they belong.

The park service said the eruption does not, at the moment, pose a threat to tourism.