Article: The Myth of Darwin's Finches: Untitled

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The Myth of Darwin's Finches
By Branden Holmes on November 23, 2010

The finches of the Galapagos Islands, one of the modern "icons of evolution", and taking their name from the ornithologist David Lack's 1947 book Darwin's Finches (though Percy Lowe had called them that 11 years prior), in fact played little if any part in Darwin's initial thoughts about evolution. He had collected a large sample of them when he visited the islands in late 1835 (September), but he failed to annotate which islands which specimens came from. Thus, though John Gould later recognized more than twenty different species amongst the specimens he was given access to, Darwin was unaware of their significance, and was probably even unaware that some of them were finches (contemporary taxonomists only recognize 13, plus a fourteenth in the Cocos Islands). Instead he was more concerned with collecting as many specimens of plants and animals as possible.

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Imagebachngolf
Nov 28, 2010 4:36 AM CST
Name: Anne King
Mesquite, NV (100 Miles North
Flower gardening is my first passio
"... finches are separated not by geography but by ecology (the foundations of sympatric speciation had been laid)."

- I've not read Lack and had not realized the implications of this simple statement..

"David Lack's 1947 book Darwin's Finches (though Percy Lowe had called them that 11 years prior), in fact played little if any part in Darwin's initial thoughts about evolution. He had collected a large sample of them when he visited the islands in late 1835 (September), but he failed to annotate which islands which specimens came from. "

- I often wondered at the "common knowledge" that Darwin's theory of evolution was based on finches, when Darwin in Origin makes it clear he did not note the island from which each finch came. Thanks so much for your cogent presentations in all these articles! What do you do for a "living" since you are so thoroughly steeped in the intricacies of evolution. - Anne King
Surroundx
Nov 28, 2010 5:11 AM CST
Name: Branden
Western Australia
Hi Anne, I currently work at a plant nursery. The largest in the southern hemisphere.
http://www.cubits.org/TheExtinctionCubit a database of species which have become extinct within the last 100,000 years.
Imagebachngolf
Nov 28, 2010 6:42 PM CST
Name: Anne King
Mesquite, NV (100 Miles North
Flower gardening is my first passio
Lucky you - to be among plants all day - if you have to work, that's the place to be. I'm fortunate to have been retired for 15 years. - Anne (73 years young)

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