Darwin's theory, Theory of evolution and the beak of the finch, Jonathan Weiner, Galapagos study, Magnirostris, Endler, Finches, Daphne major
When we imagine the process of evolution, we tend to picture it as an extremely slow, gradual process. It takes millions of years for some frog to change colors and camouflage to its surroundings, and it takes just as long for a fish to improve its structure and achieve the maneuverability necessary to escape its many predators. Often, non-scientists and scientists alike view evolution as a slow and difficult process to measure that one life time is often not nearly enough to measure any significant change in a species. In his book "The Beak of the Finch", Jonathan Weiner disputes this notion and describes a long term research project that involved studying finches in the Galapagos Islands. In the project, headed by Peter and Rosemary Grant, the beaks and other measurements of Darwin's finches are meticulously recorded and compared from year to year. After over two decades of analysis, the results prove to be astounding and remarkably supportive of Darwin's theory.
[...] Evolution had run as fast in the wild as in the greenhouse (Weiner 95). Evidently, finches are not the only species that can evolve quickly and after only a few generations. Natural selection can play a significant role, and it can sometimes act much faster than we might imagine. Another example of quick evolution occurring over only a few generations occurred with the use of pesticides such as DDT on insect and moth populations. This pesticide, as well as other more poisonous ones, were used in an effort to destroy moths and other insects. [...]
[...] On the islands of Daphne Major and other Galapagos islands, evolution within the finches is a quick and constant process. It is never gradual and significant changes can occur after only a few generations. Changes in the environment—especially major disturbances like excessive rain or drought—can alone determine which of the birds will survive and which will die out, a perfect demonstration of natural selection. Excessive rain can result in major increases to the finch population by significantly increasing the food supply, however these populations can quickly crash once the rains stop and the plants begin to die out. [...]
[...] The insects, however, grew resistant to the poison because some of the insects within the population would not be vulnerable, and they would pass on this trait to their offspring. It made no difference what kind of poison was used and what dosage was sprayed because the result was always the same—in the short term the insects would begin to die out, but they would come back quickly with complete resistance to the chemical being used to destroy them. Weiner describes to us some of the quick evolutionary changes that have occurred within the insects: Flying scale insects have evolved resistance to buquinolate in only six generations. [...]
[...] The females were choosing the very features that had allowed the birds to pull through those hard times (Weiner 87). Although it may seem like such finches would always have an advantage given their large size and ability to crack any seed, this could not be further from the truth. In other instances, these same Magnirostris finches may be starving because large seeds may be unavailable and small seeds may not be enough to satisfy their diet. In such a case, cactus finches, which are significantly smaller, would have the advantage and they would be the ones attracting the mates. [...]
[...] In order to win a debate, one must have adequate knowledge of the opponent's argument. To argue in favor of evolution and against Intelligent Design, it is important to have a real understanding of Intelligent Design as more than just the idea that an “Intelligent Designer” made all the organisms perfectly suited for their environment. When both sides of the debate absorb this information and contest their viewpoints in a professional manner, a fruitful discussion can be had, and evolutionary theory will clearly prove the winner. [...]
using our reader.