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The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

Jonathan Weiner

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ISBN 10: 1455883441 / ISBN 13: 9781455883448
Published by Brilliance Audio, 2012
Condition: Good
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution ...

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Publication Date: 2012

Binding: Audio CD

Book Condition: Good

Edition: Unabridged.

About this title

Synopsis:

The Beak of the Finch tells the story of two Princeton University scientists―evolutionary biologists―engaged in an extraordinary investigation. They are watching, and recording, evolution as it is occurring―now―among the very species of Galápagos 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.

The finches that Darwin took from Galápagos at the time of his voyage on the Beagle led to his first veiled hints about his revolutionary theory. 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.

We see the Grants at work on the island among the thousands of living, nesting, hatching, growing birds whose world and lives are the Grants’ primary laboratory. We explore the special circumstances that make the Galápagos archipelago a paradise for evolutionary research: an isolated population of birds that cannot easily fly away and mate with other populations, islands that are the tips of young volcanoes and thus still rapidly evolving as does the life that they support, a food supply changing radically in response to radical variations of climate―so that in a brief span of time the Grants can see the beak of the finch adapt. And we watch the Grants’ team observe evolution at a level that was totally inaccessible to Darwin: the molecular level, as the DNA in the blood samples taken from the birds reveals evolutionary change.

Here, brilliantly and lucidly recounted―with important implications for our own day, when man’s alterations of the environment are speeding the rate of evolutionary changes―is a scientific enterprise in the grand manner, and abstraction made concrete, a theory validated in life.

Review:

Rosemary and Peter Grant and those assisting them have spend twenty years on Daphne Major, an island in the Galapagos studying natural selection. They recognize each individual bird on the island, when there are four hundred at the time of the author's visit, or when there are over a thousand. They have observed about twenty generations of finches -- continuously.
Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin's finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself.

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