The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time - Jonathan Weiner A very complete and persuasive argument for evolution, Jonathan Weiner accompanies and interviews some of the most respected professionals in the fields of biology- evolutionists, ecologists, ornithologists, botanists, conservationists, geneticists, molecular biologists, and microbiologists, all showing how evolution is occurring, and in some cases physically observed, in their respective fields. Creationists beware, this book may change your mind. The author's primary focus lies with the finches Charles Darwin studied so intensively in the Galapagos Islands in the 1800s, and mirrors his findings and experiences with those of Peter and Rosemary Grant's first eleven years continuing his work, pointing out where his beliefs were wrong and following his hunches to discover habits and relationships they never would have thought to connect. Weiner accompanies the Grants several times throughout their trips to Daphne Major, as well as Genovesa, San Cristobal, and other volcanic islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago, getting a first-hand look at the evolution taking place, himself.

The author provides the facts and figures the finch-watchers collect, proof that these animals are physically changing over the generations to fit best into their particular niche on the island. Beak size or shape, body size, claw usage, they are all changing to get the most out of their environment, and as the environment changes, particularly when under flood or drought, the changes move into the direction that will best fit the new environment. He also clears up the line between what is simply an adaptation in a species, and what changes suggest a whole new species has been created.

Evolution is also shown through experimentation and observation of other birds, insects, bacterium, fish, flowering plants, and molecules from all around the world. The science of this is broken down so thoroughly that one does not need to be familiar with the subject before picking up this book, because everything is well-explained, and Weiner doesn't waste time getting off-topic to explain a theory or scientific process not necessary to understand why and how these changes happen.

Human evolution is also spotlighted, giving a brief history of how we have changed since branching off from the other primates. He also touches on the subject of human consciousness, why we seem to be the only creatures able to develop it, and whether it's possible for other conscious beings to live on another planet- a mystery forever plaguing the evolutionary community.

Well-deserving of its Pulitzer Prize, "The Beak of the Finch" is a fantastic read for anyone interested in biology or evolution theory. Well-organized, well-written, and stimulating enough not to bore the casual reader. I gave it five out of five stars and admire Jonathan Weiner as an author for traveling all over the world out of commitment to the study of his subject.