- Paperback: 332 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 30, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780679733379
- ISBN-13: 978-0679733379
- ASIN: 067973337X
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 181 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time Paperback – May 30, 1995
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
Weiner follows scientists Peter and Rosemary Grant who, for the past 20 years, have studied the continuing evolution of the beaks of finches in the Galapagos Islands.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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By coincidence I was reading this around the time I found myself in a conversation with a creationist who claimed there had never been an observable case of speciation. (I dunno, don't ask me.). While I didn't engage, because such conversations are usually non-starters, it was rather nice to have a terrific real-world compendium of Darwin's evolving thought as it's reflected in the field work.
The book wants constant updating, though. Many tantalizing hints are dropped that are not developed but which might be, given the advances in published research.
While fascinating and well-written, I must admit that there were parts that were a bit dry and you really have to love this subject to get all the way through the book. Probably the best part is Weiner's explanation for why the finches' beaks are so crucial to their survival: their primary food source is a tiny, rock-hard seed. There is also a very funny passage on how the Grants discovered what male finches find sexually attractive.
A pleasant and engrossing read for the serious or semi-serious naturalist. Recommended for those who enjoyed Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World.
Normally I rarely study who got the Pulitzer prize for non fiction in a science related field this and the Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee deserve the award, unlike fiction where some are debatable.
recommend book to any interested in the last half decade of research in natural selection.