A new study sheds light on the “adaptive radiation” of Darwin’s famous finches

Researchers from McGill Universityanalyzing data concerning four species of Darwin’s finches from the Galapagos Islands, verified ahypothesis long supported and according to which evolution and diversity species also evolve throughadaptation to different food sources. The results of the study were published on Development.

Darwin’s finches are a group of birds belonging to a genus Geospizanative to the Galapagos Islands and are particularly well-known because they played a key role in explaining Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. These birds really show off different morphological adaptations based on their diet and their environment. In fact, by observing the differences in beak size and shape between different species, you can understand the type of food they eat and what is available on each island.

Scientists who study evolution have long assumed that the diversification of one species into many others, a phenomenon known as “adaptive radiation”is the result adaptation each species to a different environment. However, proving the truth of this hypothesis using tests is extremely complicated. Despite this, a team of biologists led by McGill University conducted a study focused on solve this puzzle and shed light on the validity of this theory.

Each species has adapted its beak shape and size based on the food available on each island

For almost two decadesa team of researchers conducted an in-depth study by collecting data on over 3400 finches Darwin in the Galapagos. The aim was to identify possible correlation between beak shape and longevity individual finches belonging to four different species, all of which evolved from a common ancestor in less than a million years. The results of the analyzes showed that individuals with Properties beak typical of its own kind they lived longer; conversely, those who deviated from typical traits had a lower probability of survival.

“The species examined in this study have physical characteristics that differ from them form and functionand this is mainly because individual characters such as beaks are selected by the environment where the above species are found,” explains Marc-Olivier Beausoleil, lead author and PhD researcher at McGill University, supervised by Professor Rowan Barrett.

Consequently ” diversity of life arises from the radiation of specialized species in different environments; in the case of Darwin’s finches, such environments are concerned variety of food”, adds Professor Andrew Hendry, who has been part of the project for more than 20 years. Further, according to the scientists, the species of finches examined they have not yet reached the peak of their evolutionary development. This means that each species is not yet fully adapted to its specific diet. However, it remains to be seen whether this is the caseperfection“Evolution will take place over time.

Leave a Comment