Talk:Darwin's finches

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Questions: The finches have different song melodies. Therefore they do not interbreed anymore? Could somebody elaborate a bit on this please? Are there subgroups which interbreed? Some pictures would be nice as well? Did somebody do a trip to the Galapagos Islands? Or the zoo? --JackH 10:41, 27 Sep 2003 (UTC)

they no longer interbreed at all, and the different songs are a likely result of this...i am traveling to the galapagos may 16, 2006 and will likely return with pictures....

Oooh cool! Get as many as you can! Also, see if you can get some good pix of the islands in general...I'd like to undertake soon to create separate articles for each of the islands. Someday soon I hope also to start Wikipedia:WikiProject Galapagos, but that's for a day when I have more time... :-p and for discussing somewhere else... Anyone interested btw? drop me a note on my talk page.  :-D Tomertalk 02:34, 26 January 2006 (UTC)


The opening sentence says there are 13 species of Darwin's Finches. Later in the first paragraph, it is claimed that Darwin believed most of these were not finches. But the quotation from Darwin's actual work quite clearly shows Darwin also saying "there are thirteen species" of finch...

As it stands, therefore, the article seems to be contradicting itself. Doubtless there's some explanation, but it's not obvious from the materials available. Perhaps someone who knows this field, or has access to the Sulloway book that's cited to support the claim that the whole thing is a myth, could clear this up? — Haeleth Talk 20:04, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

I've tried to clarify this in the intro to the quoted passage. Inception of Darwin's theory shows the timing. ..dave souza, talk 01:26, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

The Vampire Finch[edit]

The Vampire Finch is not a subspecies, is is the same Geospiza difficilis. However, when it is found on Wolf and Darwin islands, it has to change its feeding habits in order to acquire freshwater, since there is none on Wolf or Darwin. There are other islands in the archipelago without freshwater, but this finch is not found there.

I believe this makes the Vampire subspecies irrelevant, but this interesting trait should still be available on the Vampire Finch page. Dabreeze 17:02, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

"Darwin's Finches Evolve Before Scientists' Eyes"[edit]

Apparently, the species Geospiza fortis has evolved a smaller beak in a short period of about 20 years. The article is here:

I think it should be mentioned in the finches' wikipedia article, but I have no experience in editing wikipedia articles, and have no idea how to go about it.

Finches typically show evolutionary changes much quicker than, say a tortoise, because they live much shorter lives. This causes the "select" traits to pass through the generations much more quickly, showing physical differences much sooner.Dabreeze 18:52, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

But these finches have shown changes, back and forth, in beak size before during periods of drought, etc. as have birds in other parts of the world. Would this be included to attempt to refute the mention of the Galapagos Finches in Ann Coulter's book? Does the MSNBC article it was taken from (I could find no other sources.) become gospel even though things of this nature happen all of the time and still no man has ever seen one species evolve into another, different species? And to head off anyone rolling their eyes at someone perhaps attempting to refute evolution in general, I look at creationism the same way I do evolution. Both are faith-based with only conjecture to back them up. I believe there are many things that omnipotent mankind still doesn't know. This is why actual scientific works on evolution always include words such as "It is believed..." and "Possibly..." etc. One day perhaps we'll know something for sure. Until then we'll all believe many different things. Traumatic (talk) 08:48, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

For observed instances of speciation, you can reference the Wikipedia article: -- (talk) 16:13, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
You don't use Wikipedia as a reference; that's just silly. If something is said in that article, use the same reference given there. If it isn't referenced there, it shouldn't have been added there in the first place. Richard001 (talk) 05:20, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
However, it's fair enough to refer Traumatic to the other page which includes links and references. I've recently seen The Beak of the Finch recommended as a useful resource in learning about evolution. As for Ann Coulter's book, my understanding is that the "technical" input on that came from the ID crew, and in a recent example of findings on evolution their approach is contrasted with the evolution seen in action by conventional scientists. .. dave souza, talk 09:55, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Geographic Isolation[edit]

I feel that it is important to refer to geographic isolation as it correlates with Darwin's theory of natural selection as geographic isolation played a critical role in the occurrence of natural selection in the finch species that Darwin encountered.

Darwin's clues[edit]

I changed this line because it seemed to say, due to the sentence that followed, that this idea of his is in "On the Origins of Species" when it is in "Journal and Remarks," and, I believe, a later edition.

Also it was not that the birds were uniquely related to individual islands but that their beaks appeared to be adapted to individual niches, hence Darwin's emphasis on their beaks. I don't see, in "Journal," Darwin's emphasis on a "small number of common ancestors," either. The Desmond and Moorequoted:

But finches were still a minor part of (Darwin's) evolutionary proof. Admittedly he now illustrated the various types, showing their range of beaks. 'Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds,' he hinted, 'one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends.' It was a broad clue, and as much as would ever say on finch evolution.

This seems to say a single common ancestor, not a "small number of common ancestors." In fact, "small number of common ancestors" is not really what speciation is about, or what the Darwin's finches are about. This should be changed, imo. I assume this will be obliquely disagreed with, as I seem not to be able to spend enough time to write carefully enough to express what is important about what I am saying, so I leave it just as a comment, that readers might consider. --Amaltheus (talk) 06:58, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, these are good points and worth pursuing. I'm sure the text can be further refined, as the reference in OtOoS is clear that it's all the birds described by Gould as differing, and he attributes this to evolution - see the linked p. 390 "If we compare, for instance, the number of the endemic land-shells in Madeira, or of the endemic birds in the Galapagos Archipelago, with the number found on any continent, and then compare the area of the islands with that of the continent, we shall see that this is true. This fact might have been expected on my theory, for, as already explained, species occasionally arriving after long intervals in a new and isolated district, and having to compete with new associates, will be eminently liable to modification, and will often produce groups of modified descendants. But it by no means follows, that, because in an island nearly all the species of one class are peculiar, those of another class, or of another section of the same class, are peculiar; and this difference seems to depend on the species which do not become modified having immigrated with facility and in a body, so that their mutual relations have not been much disturbed. Thus in the Galapagos Islands nearly every land-bird, but only two out of the eleven marine birds, are peculiar; and it is obvious that marine birds could arrive at these islands more easily than land-birds," It would be worth finding the quotes from The Voyage of the Beagle#Later editions: changing ideas on evolution on DarwinOnline by using the advanced search function, and noting the page number and edition concerned. .. dave souza, talk 09:22, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Finches related to islands[edit]

The idea that each finch is "uniquely related to an individual island" seems to be commonly stated, but I have not seen any text where Darwin claims that to be the case. It is not factually correct (see The Theory of Evolution by John Maynard Smith chapter 14) so I suspect this is a myth that should not be propagated further unless a proper source for the statement can be found.Txcmy (talk) 16:35, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Well, I can't see it stated here. About the nearest is "From them he was able to establish that the species were uniquely related to individual islands, giving him the idea that somehow in this geographical isolation these different species could have been formed from a small number of common ancestors so that each was modified to suit "different ends" as Darwin comments in his Journal and Remarks" which isn't the same. Suggestions for improved phrasing welcome. . . dave souza, talk 15:19, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Polymorphism and the Grants[edit]

I have inserted a section about dimorphism in Geospiza, which serves, inter alia, to introduced the Grants with references, and illustrates the variety of evolution-related issues which these island faunas present. As with mimicry, this is a continuing research area.

The article also illustrates one of the big embarrassments of science, namely, that we don't know all the answers. Darwin's finches are not finches... What are they, then? ...Er, we really don't quite know... Neither did Darwin, but he was right in their affinity with birds on the mainland. Macdonald-ross (talk) 17:58, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, it looks impressive but over my head. Shouldn't it be a full section rather than a subsection of Darwin's theory, as it's way beyond Darwin's own work. The repositioning of the Text from the Voyage of the Beagle makes sense, but logically the relevant text from the main section now preceding it should be integrated into that subsection, and a new subsection formed with the text from On the Origin of Species. . . dave souza, talk 18:24, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Good ideas; I'll do it. Macdonald-ross (talk) 19:21, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Finished my bit; reduced the dimorphism stuff. Macdonald-ross (talk) 16:24, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
This section looks like an essay ("Here we look briefly…") and covers one out of dozens of studies by the Grants. I think instead that a section should be made about th grants' studies, and some of th info from this section should be shifted to a new section on the tanagers' evolution. innotata (Talk | Contribs) 19:02, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

Molecular beaks[edit]

This section stands out as being too detailed, over-technical and incomprehensible to anyone without at least an MSc in molecular developmental biology. Unless there is a big protest, I intend to slim this down and simplify it. The data here is about developmental mechanism; it doesn't help to clarify the issues raised in the sections above it. Just because we now know such things doesn't mean it all has to go in WP! Macdonald-ross (talk) 06:39, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

I agree. This study (and the others included here), out of scores over the past few decades, is given too much weight and not properly put in context. I think it should be fitted into the text and reduced to a few sentences innotata (Talk | Contribs) 18:57, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
OK, so I've simplified it. Macdonald-ross (talk) 20:24, 9 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, though it could be simplified further. I think this should be reduced, and fitted into the text. I think there should be a section describing these birds at the top, and that the polymorphism section should be turned into a section on the Grants' work in general. I'll do what I can sometime, but can any other contributors here have a go at it? innotata (Talk | Contribs) 17:36, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
I've just been looking at the molecule section and I've realised the study is not really placed in context. The point is: Why do Darwin's finches have such variable bills? As it is, this page's coverage of the matter is incomplete innotata (Talk | Contribs) 17:39, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Links added to BMP4 and Calmodulin. Ncirillopenn (talk) 20:15, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

I very much enjoyed the portion of Molecular basis of beak evolution, I think it would be great to have even more information on the beak evolution of the finches. Adding another subtopic such as the morphology of the beaks could help broaden the knowledge of evolution in finches. Discussing environment and describing the impact it had on finches beak size would be a way to approach the topic. There is on going research describing species such as the Geospiza fortis and the Geospiza scandens that describe these changes (Chicaiza.1 (talk) 01:42, 2 October 2014 (UTC))

Adding on to the topic of beak size among the finches there could be a portion that shows factors that have contributed to the change and evolution of finches beak size, for example character displacement. (Chicaiza.1 (talk) 01:59, 2 October 2014 (UTC))