Evolution of the Darwin's finches and their beaks

February 11, 2015 6:20 PM

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Darwin's finches, inhabiting the Galápagos archipelago and Cocos island, constitute an iconic model for studies of speciation and adaptive evolution. A team of scientists from Uppsala University and Princeton University has now shed light on the evolutionary history of these birds and identified a gene that explains variation in beak shape within and among species. The study is published today in Nature, on the day before the 206th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.

Darwin's finches are a classical example of an adaptive radiation. Their common ancestor arrived on the Galapagos about two million years ago. During the time that has passed the Darwin's finches have evolved into 15 recognized species differing in body size, beak shape, song and feeding behaviour. ...

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