On the Galapagos Islands Charles Darwin
gave his first hint at his theory of natural selection, writing about the finches he studied there. In Darwin's time there was no proof of this theoretical mechanism for evolution. Indeed it would have been thought absurd to imagine observing it actually happen; the process was thought to take geological time spans. Weiner, an outstanding science journalist, details research done in the last 20 years that proves otherwise. Biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant have documented the evolution of Darwin's Galapagos finches, demonstrating that it is neither rare nor slow, but can be watched by the hour. Weiner's superb account reads like a thriller and won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize
From Publishers Weekly
For more than 20 years Rosemary and Peter Grant have divided their time between Daphne Major in the Galapagos and Princeton University. On the tiny island they have intensively studied six species of Darwin's ground finches; at Princeton, they analyze their collected data. In following their work Weiner ( Planet Earth ) tells a remarkable story of continuing evolution, and of the painstaking research that reveals it. The Grants documented two dramatic changes in the finches: after a drought in 1977 reduced their numbers by 85%, the surviving birds became larger, in weight, wingspan and beak; after El Nino's floods in 1983, the trend was reversed. The Grants found that during food shortages the difference of one millimeter in the size of a finch's beak could determine its life or death. In his eloquent and richly informative report, Weiner surveys as well research on evolution being done on crossbills, sticklebacks and fruit flies. Illustrations. 40,000 first printing; BOMC, QPB , History Book Club and Natural Science Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.