Galapagos is a living museum of evolution with myriad species to spot, including blue-footed boobies, waved albatross, marine iguanas, lava lizards, Galapagos tortoises, fur seals and the famed Galapagos finches
that inspired Darwin's theory of natural selection.
He included illustrations he made of Galapagos finches
in groundbreaking book On The Origin Of Species.
For example, in the Galapagos, "the hard, black seeds of Zanthoxylum fagarae, ~2-3 mm in diameter, were frequently eaten" only by the largest of the Galapagos finches
, Geospiza magnirostris (Bowman 1961:26).
Charles Darwin's path to evolutionary theory is infinitely more interesting and dramatic when it's paved with Galapagos finches
and tortoises than with pages of scientific doctrine.
Ecology becomes central in the second and longest chapter, "A Green Machine," in which a cryptic discussion of the concept of an ecosystem precedes a treatment of standard ecological topics, including adaptation, industrial melanism, the Galapagos finches
, niches, and food webs.
introduces Peter and Barbara Grant, whose studies of the Galapagos finches
on Daphne Major Island have spanned 39 years.
Recent experiments by Peter and Rosemary Grant of McGill University demonstrated that the average beak size of Galapagos finches
changed during years of drought, confirming the power of natural selection at that modest level.
A phylogenetic reanalysis of allozyme variation among populations of Galapagos finches
They show, for instance, that Darwin gleaned a great deal of insight from his observations of birdlife other than the famous Galapagos finches