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Scientists devise new model for origins of Darwin's finches

Scientists devise new model for origins of Darwin's finches

Science
May 9 (UPI) -- New research offers the best explanation to date of the origins of Darwin's finches.The diversity of finches on the Galapagos Islands inspired Darwin's theory of natural selection and species divergence, central tenets of the naturalist's theory of evolution. But until now, scientists have struggled to determine where the finch species came from and how they got to the Pacific Islands.Darwin's finches include 15 passerine species. They belong to the tanager family and are not closely related to true finches.As part of the latest study, San Diego State University's Erik Funk and Kevin Burns built a complex statistical model to consider two competing hypotheses for the origins of Darwin's finches. Both models considered the Galapagos, South America and the Caribbean as the bir...
Galapagos finches caught in act of becoming new species

Galapagos finches caught in act of becoming new species

Science
A population of finches on the Galapagos has been discovered in the process of becoming a new species. This is the first example of speciation that scientists have been able to observe directly in the field. Researchers followed the entire population of finches on a tiny Galapagos island called Daphne Major, for many years, and so they were able to watch the speciation in progress.The research was published in the journal Science.The group of finch species to which the Big Bird population belongs are collectively known as Darwin's finches and helped Charles Darwin to uncover the process of evolution by natural selection.In 1981, the researchers noticed the arrival of a male of a non-native species, the large cactus finch.Professors Rosemary and Peter Grant noticed that this male proceeded ...