Watching speciation in action (for 40 years!)

There are many meaningful things to do in one’s lifetime. How about watching the arise of a new species in real time?

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A British couple spent half a year on Galapagos island to study Darwin’s finches for over 40 years (since 1973)! The process leading to scientific discovery can be tedious and can take a long time. However, it is also fun and meaningful if you have a good cause. I can imagine how satisfying and exciting it can be if the evolution mechanisms can be clearly illustrated from the micro scale (mutations, protein function changes, etc.) to macro scale (fitness, ecology, etc.). While I am writing the post, the natural world is evolving, and while I am doing my PhD, the natural world is evolving!

This is the introduction of the couple from Wikipedia:

“Peter Raymond Grant FRS FRSC and Barbara Rosemary Grant FRS FRSC are a British couple of evolutionary biologists at the Princeton University who hold the position of Emeritus Professor. They are known for their work concerning Darwin’s finches on the Galápagos Island named Daphne Major. The Grants have spent six months of the year each year since 1973 capturing, tagging, and taking blood samples of the finches on the island. It has been their life work to show that natural selection can be seen within one’s lifetime, even within a couple of years. Darwin originally thought that natural selection was a long, drawn out process. The Grants have shown that this is sometimes incorrect and that these changes in populations can happen very quickly.”

The original Science perspective provides more interesting evolution examples. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/355/6328/910.full

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