The Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated islands on Earth, farther from any continent than any other group, yet they were teeming with plants and animals when the first Polynesians arrived.
Without grazing animals, slower-growing plants had time to adapt to harsh environments, and unique ecosystems evolved — with ground-nesting birds, flightless beetles, blind spiders — producing wonders such as an upside-down rainforest!
Introduction of grazing animals and faster-growing plants came with Western contact, and a landscape that had taken millions of years to create was transformed in less than a century, as were the people of the land.
While those first human settlers had their impact on the balance of nature in the lowlands, they also recast their ancestral stories to include the plants and animals they found here, made their own adaptations to these islands, and eventually became the Hawaiian branch of the Polynesian family.
Local historian and master storyteller Boyd Bond recounts how the Hawaiian Islands came to be next month at the Lyman Museum. His program will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4. Cost is $3 for nonmembers, free to museum members. For additional information, call 935-5021 or visit www.lymanmuseum.org.