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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Inveiglements include several dozen B/W illustrations, most enticingly a dozen Galapagos Finch drawings by Charles Darwin and an essential map of the Galapagos Islands and the route taken by Darwin on his biological sojourn, particularly useful while reading of the various ecological areas of Darwin Finches, fauna and flora areas being researched, independently, by various investigative biologists, most notably Peter and Rosemary Grant.
Author Weiner is an esteemed science writer, editor and authored "Planet Earth" and "The Next One Hundred Years". He writes in erudite prose easily understood by non-scientists and in a style that provokes active thinking on the part of the reader: - this reader/writer interaction leads to a much fuller understanding of his informational-educational mission in writing this book than too-oft seen in most science books, and is significantly crisp when the subject of evolution is being discussed, a topic that is more abstracted of being theory than most static reviews of geology, history, and the various arts.
So, Weiner presents us with a three part dissertation on "Evolution in the Flesh", "New Beings on the This Earth", and "G.O.D". Overall, Weiner provides convincing facts and ideas with on-going experimental studies indicating that evolution is an on-going phenomenon and pays homage to Charles Darwin's tedious studies and contemplations prior to publication of his "Origin of Species".
This is a book for the scientifically-literate reader. An understanding of the scientific process is important to grasping the book. The degree of detail may be daunting. But considering those caveats, this book describes a truly beautiful chapter in the story of biology.
If biodiversity and evolution was ever taught in narrative and exposition, this would be on the syllabus, and it would be the class favorite.