young charles darwin statue at the charles darwin research station on santa cruz

A statue of the young Charles Darwin (pictured center) at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Try to picture Charles Darwin. What do you see? If you’re like most people you’re probably envisioning a black and white image of a serious looking and somewhat portly older gentleman with an unruly long white beard. If you’re like me, you might even be picturing Karl Marx by mistake. It’s interesting to think that Darwin was only 26 years old when he first came to visit the Galapagos Islands and looked nothing like the now classic image we have of him. A new statue at the Charles Darwin Research Station on the island of Santa Cruz depicts Darwin as he looked in 1835 when he first set foot on these shores. He’s clean-shaven and carrying a notebook and magnifying class. The research station that bears his name hosts 100,000 visitors a year.  It’s a pretty safe bet that the statue will be the subject of a lot of travelers’ photos going forward and might even eventually change how we see the man.

The statue took Ecuadorian sculptor Patricio Ruales (on the right) about a year to create. Renowned Galapagos scientist and life-long Darwin scholar, Godfrey Merlen (left), wrote about the project in Darwin’s Right Hand Man.