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The Beak of the Finch : : a Story of Evolution in our own Time

Weiner, Jonathan. Book - 1994 Adult Book / Nonfiction / Science & Nature / Animals / Birds, 598.883 We 3 On Shelf No requests on this item Community Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Call Number: Adult Book / Nonfiction / Science & Nature / Animals / Birds, 598.883 We
On Shelf At: Malletts Creek Branch, Pittsfield Branch, Westgate Branch

Location Call Number Branch Item Status
Malletts Adult Books Adult Book / Nonfiction / Science & Nature / Animals / Birds Malletts Creek Branch On Shelf
Pittsfield Adult Books Adult Book / Nonfiction / Science & Nature / Animals / Birds Pittsfield Branch On Shelf
Westgate Adult Books Adult Book / Nonfiction / Science & Nature / Animals / Birds Westgate Branch On Shelf
Downtown 2nd Floor 598.883 We Downtown Library Due 02-19-2020


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A Great Popular Book on Evolution submitted by Jan Wolter on June 18, 2013, 8:39pm This major portion of this book describes the work of a team of scientists who undertook an amazingly arduous study. For year after year they visited a small, inaccessible island in the Galapagos, and captured, tagged and measured every finch on the island. They sampled the food supply and studied everything on the island that could influence the lives of the birds. And they kept it up until they had family trees for every single bird. And out of this mountain of arduously collected data, they started seeing dramatic patterns. Evolution is generally understood to be extreme slow, consisting of gradual changes over the millennia, but that appears not to be exactly correct, because they could actually observe real evolutionary change. A prolonged drought changed the food supply, and changed the shape and size of the finches beaks. And then the weather patterns changed back, and so did the finches. So evolutionary change is actually rapid, it just doesn't usually keep going in a straight line. Instead, it jitters back and forth, making changes and undoing them. And that's just cool.

This book is a wonderfully readable introduction to research into evolution, not in the geological record, but in living things in the world today. Parts of it, like the parts about the evolution of diseases, aren't very pleasant, but it's a book that left me feeling like I understood the world better.

Wonderful book! submitted by BugsAndSlugs on June 29, 2013, 8:45am Evolution, adaptation, and, in its absence, extinction have been occurring on this planet much longer than humans have been around!

Excellent submitted by bchapman630 on July 15, 2013, 9:07am One of the early points that struck me the most was the observation that people accept the concept of "breeding" animals for the benefit of reducing problematic traits and for increasing desired traits (often with unwanted consequences), however they refuse to accept evidence that this process of selective progress within species is in fact the same exact thing - it's evolution that is not guided by a breeders manipulation. I never thought of it that way and after I read that I was sucked in. Very interesting book that is both historical, anthropological and makes you think about your own basic biology. Excellent.

Excellent submitted by sueij on August 12, 2018, 8:41pm This was excellent. I love accessible science, and especially natural science. The story of Darwin, evolution in general and evolution observed in action, and the finches in the Galapagos is well-told and made relevant. It just got better as the book went on, as the researchers and the author kept finding new pieces to explore. I was surprised and delighted when, near the end, the book covered such topics as antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pesticides. As a layperson, I never would have thought about those as evolution in action, but it makes perfect sense now.

If you enjoy science, I highly recommend it.

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New York : Distributed by Random House, 1994.
Year Published: 1994
Description: 332 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Language: English
Format: Book


Grant, Peter R., -- 1936-
Grant, B. Rosemary.
Finches -- Galapagos Islands -- Evolution.
Finches -- Research -- Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos Islands.