The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan WeinerWinner of the Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. For among the finches of Daphne Major, natural selection is neither rare nor slow: it is taking place by the hour, and we can watch.
In this dramatic story of groundbreaking scientific research, Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwins finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself. The Beak of the Finch is an elegantly written and compelling masterpiece of theory and explication in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould.
With a new preface.
Book Talk! Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner
Charles Darwin viewed evolution as a process so slow that it often evokes images of changes accumulated over near-geologic timescales. Rosemary Grant's research has revealed otherwise. Through painstaking documentation of the evolutionary process first described by Darwin, Grant has shown that evolution can be observed within a lifetime.
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time
Look Inside. May 30, ISBN May 14, ISBN Winner of the Pulitzer Prize Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. For among the finches of Daphne Major, natural selection is neither rare nor slow: it is taking place by the hour, and we can watch. With a new preface. It is the best exploration of evolution written in recent years.
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By Jonathan Weiner. They are watching, and recording, evolution as it is occurring - now - among the very species of Galapagos finches that inspired Darwin's early musings on the origin of species. They are studying the evolutionary process not through the cryptic medium of fossils but in real time, in the wild, in the flesh. But Darwin himself never saw evolution as Peter and Rosemary Grant have been seeing it - in the act of happening. For more than twenty years they have been monitoring generation after generation of finches on the island of Daphne Major - measuring, weighing, observing, tracking, analyzing on computers their struggle for existence.
Adventures on Daphne
The finches of the title are the Galapagos or 'Darwin's Finches ,' passerine songbirds in the Galapagos Islands. Weiner follows the career of two biologists, Peter and Rosemary Grant , who have spent twenty years proving that Charles Darwin did not know the full strength of his theory of evolution. On a desert island among the Galapagos, Daphne Major , the Grants are showing that among the finches of the Galapagos, natural selection sometimes takes place so rapidly we can watch it at work. Kim Sterelny cites this rapid natural selection as illustrating an important point about periods of relative stasis in the punctuated equilibrium hypothesis of Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould : "In claiming that species typically undergo no further evolutionary change once speciation is complete, they are not claiming that there is no change at all between one generation and the next. Lineages do change. But the change between generations does not accumulate. Instead, over time, the species wobbles about its phenotypic mean.