After all, Charles Darwin might never have come up with the theory of evolution by natural selection if he hadn't studied the Galapagos finches
. At that time, the RGS was the prime mover in British exploration.
They show, for instance, that Darwin gleaned a great deal of insight from his observations of birdlife other than the famous Galapagos finches
. His Ornithological Notes reveals not only Darwin's sensitivity to the minute details of the observable world but also his modesty and zeal for learning.
As for the Galapagos finches
, Andrew Lomas, they are still finches, not other dicky birds!
David Lack, the 1940s biologist who did the definitive work on Galapagos finches
once said that neither scientific materialism nor religious devotion can alone explain the living world, as both entail "unexplained gaps and contradictions." Today it is fashionable to assume that science and faith are bent on each other's destruction.
The common ancestor of the Galapagos finches
was the West Indian finch (Melanospiza richardsonii), but it is no longer found on the islands, having been replaced by its evolutionary descendants, the current 13 species.
Not so Wings of Angels (BBC2), Horizon's compelling and very human account of zoologist David Lack's determination to provide proof of Darwin's survival of the fittest theory of evolution with a rigorous study of the Galapagos finches
A recent study of the famous Galapagos finches
is a case in point.
Many of the celebrated instances of island evolution are reviewed and evaluated in this edited volume, including such classical cases of adaptive radiations on remote oceanic archipelagoes as Hawaiian drosophilines and lobelioids, Caribbean anoles, Galapagos finches
, Polynesian snails, and Canary Islands lacertines.