Darwin’s finches form a group of around a dozen species endemic to the Galapagos, closely related to but quite distinct from the finches of the South American mainland. Although the original specimens were collected by Darwin and other crew members of HMS Beagle, their significance was not realised until they were examined by ornithologist John Gould after the ship returned to Britain. Jonathan Wiener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Beak of the Finch brings the story up to date by examining the work of biologists Peter and Mary Grant, who spent 20 years studying the birds. They concluded that evolution through natural selection is still taking place among the finches, and that it is happening so quickly as to be observable in real time.
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Published by Vintage Books
01 August 2000