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Friday Field Foto #42: Destroyed Darwin Plaque in the Andes

February 15, 2008

I have a little different field photograph this week. In honor of Darwin Day the other day, I remembered I had this photograph I took a few years ago while on a field trip in the Andes near Mendoza, Argentina.

Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago, Chile are connected by Portillo Pass through Cordillera de los Andes. Charles Darwin used some time on land during his journey in 1835 to explore this pass. On the other side of the divide, on the Argentine side, he discovered a grove of petrified trees while exploring the geology of the region (I didn’t have time to look up the details of the fossils…if you know more, share it below).


In 1959 a plaque along the road on the Argentine side of the divide was erected to commemorate the discovery.

Why is the plaque broken? According to our field trip leaders, religious extremists are responsible…presumably because they don’t appreciate Darwin’s work or the fact that he is being remembered.



5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2008 9:02 am

    Do you have any evidence that this was religiously motivated, as opposed to simple vandalism by drunk teenagers with too much time on their hands?

    It’s a shame it was vandalized, and the vandals deserve our ire, but let’s not jump to conclusions until we’ve got some evidence to support them.

  2. February 15, 2008 9:11 am

    Ron…this was told to us by the leader of the trip, Victor Ramos, a prof at Buenos Aries. He is a very diligent and respected scientist…I doubt he would lie about such a thing.

    Apparently, it’s been that way for a number of years now … I’m not sure what the story is … but I don’t think he would make that up.

    Bottom line: I can’t provide you with ‘evidence’ so I guess it’s possible that’s not the case. I’m simply relaying a story told to me by the Argentinians.

  3. February 15, 2008 11:01 am

    I’ve modified the text a bit in the main post to reflect where I got the info.

  4. February 15, 2008 2:58 pm

    That’s all I was looking for. I didn’t doubt the likelihood of a religious motivation, but I didn’t want to jump to that conclusion in the absence of evidence.

  5. February 15, 2008 7:22 pm

    “presumably because they don’t appreciate Darwin’s work”

    I wonder if they used stainless steel tools to do this?

    If so, I suspect they probably wouldn’t appreciate that the key ingredient in stainless steel, chromium, is chiefly mined from igneous cumulates.

    And guess who first recognized them?

    I may have to put a belated Darwin day post together.

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