Galapagos Finches are the greatest natural history that can be certainly felt when experiencing the Darwin's Finches.
Yes, those little sparrow-like birds, are the most incredible lesson in natural selection.
There are a total of 14 species of Darwin's Finches (13 in Galapagos, 1 in Cocos Island), and all belong to the Passerine group (finches, sparrows, etc).
An ancestral Galapagos finch arrived millions of years ago, and because of the Islands' isolation, their geological make-up, odd weather for tropical standards, and a chain of islands to hop around, it ended up into a set of different species (yes, over time) that differentiate themselves not only in behavior, but most important, their overall diet, and thus their beaks.
Look at the beak differences in these Galapagos Finches:
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You read it right: their beaks! When you need a specific tool for a specific use, you don't go around trying all the tools until you find the right one...over time, you rather develop a specific one. Simple.
It may sound Lamarckian, and from that angle it sure is. But here come Darwinian principles: variation acts as a regulating factor of the truly fit (something unheard of by Lamarck).
Slight variations in beak size design the evolutionary mechanism that allows species to be different. In other words, the species-making machine. Fancy biological terms like allopatric and sympatric speciation complement this idea better.
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In Galapagos finch language, the result is 13 different species in Galapagos, plus an extra one in Coco Island (400 miles north of the Galapagos Islands).
The definition of allopatric and sympatric has to do with where did this making of species took place? Was it in several islands, or was it in one Island?
To make the story incredibly amazing, the answer is that speciation took place in both scenarios. but wait, it gets better...
Colonization, recolonization, competition, feeding grounds, isolation, ecological setup, nesting habitat, age and altitude of islands, and more, are factors to be considered when understanding Darwin's finches.
(I suggest you read The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Wiener; Pulitzer Prize Winner).
This may bring one idea a bit more clear to you: finches Galapagos Islands and animal tremendous diversity.
If several ecological niches are found (laymen call this "what to eat, where to live"), therefore colonization (and, indeed, recolonization) can become the factory where new species are "made".
Add a million years of time, plus natural selection, and voilá...new species!!.
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The Galapagos Islands feel proud about renaming with a bird species "the Galapagos Finches" that will remain as a living proof of evolutionary
With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!
There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.
Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.
Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!
Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.
Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!
If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.
But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.
Small, well-priced, and reliable!
The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.
This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!
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