Friday, July 14, 2006

Evolution of Darwin's Finches

Historical legend posits that Darwin based his theory of evolution on observation of finches on the Galapagos islands. He was actually introduced to the idea by professor John Henslow while studying at Cambridge who had developed the basis while studying beatles and plants.

Dispite this bit of historical innacuracy, the finches have long been a staple of the story. And for the first time, scientists have observed real time changes in their beaks.

Due to the invasion of a new larger species that ate all the larger seeds, a new sub species with smaller beaks arose and flourished while the larger species almost perished due to lack of resources.

However, the article does have one false statement:
For the first time scientists have observed in real-time evolutionary changes in one species driven by competition for resources from another
Such evolutionary processes are frequently seen, but this one is only noteable for its novelty.

1 comment:

Paul Decelles said...

I do need to see the primary article still, but character displacement is typically inferred after the fact. To see the populations diverging due to interspecific competition in the field is pretty exciting stuff.