(6 ratings - Login to add yours)
  • Published: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1994.
  • Year Published: 1994
  • Edition: 1st ed.
  • Description: 332 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 067973337X :
  • 0679400036 :


Recently Listed On


Login to add tags

Share This

  • Book

The beak of the finch : a story of evolution in our own time

by Weiner, Jonathan.

There are no copies available

Where To Find It

Call number: 598.883 We

Community Reviews


One of the early points that struck me the most was the observation that people accept the concept of "breeding" animals for the benefit of reducing problematic traits and for increasing desired traits (often with unwanted consequences), however they refuse to accept evidence that this process of selective progress within species is in fact the same exact thing - it's evolution that is not guided by a breeders manipulation. I never thought of it that way and after I read that I was sucked in. Very interesting book that is both historical, anthropological and makes you think about your own basic biology. Excellent.

Wonderful book!

Evolution, adaptation, and, in its absence, extinction have been occurring on this planet much longer than humans have been around!

A Great Popular Book on Evolution

This major portion of this book describes the work of a team of scientists who undertook an amazingly arduous study. For year after year they visited a small, inaccessible island in the Galapagos, and captured, tagged and measured every finch on the island. They sampled the food supply and studied everything on the island that could influence the lives of the birds. And they kept it up until they had family trees for every single bird. And out of this mountain of arduously collected data, they started seeing dramatic patterns. Evolution is generally understood to be extreme slow, consisting of gradual changes over the millennia, but that appears not to be exactly correct, because they could actually observe real evolutionary change. A prolonged drought changed the food supply, and changed the shape and size of the finches beaks. And then the weather patterns changed back, and so did the finches. So evolutionary change is actually rapid, it just doesn't usually keep going in a straight line. Instead, it jitters back and forth, making changes and undoing them. And that's just cool.

This book is a wonderfully readable introduction to research into evolution, not in the geological record, but in living things in the world today. Parts of it, like the parts about the evolution of diseases, aren't very pleasant, but it's a book that left me feeling like I understood the world better.

Login to write a review of your own.