[Read] ➲ The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time ➮ Jonathan Weiner – Buyphenergan500.us

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our TimeWinner Of The Pulitzer PrizeWinner Of The Los Angeles Times Book PrizeOn A Desert Island In The Heart Of The Galapagos Archipelago, Where Darwin Received His First Inklings Of The Theory Of Evolution, Two Scientists, Peter And Rosemary Grant, Have Spent Twenty Years Proving That Darwin Did Not Know The Strength Of His Own Theory For Among The Finches Of Daphne Major, Natural Selection Is Neither Rare Nor Slow It Is Taking Place By The Hour, And We Can WatchIn This Dramatic Story Of Groundbreaking Scientific Research, Jonathan Weiner Follows These Scientists As They Watch Darwin S Finches And Come Up With A New Understanding Of Life Itself The Beak Of The Finch Is An Elegantly Written And Compelling Masterpiece Of Theory And Explication In The Tradition Of Stephen Jay GouldWith A New Preface

[Read] ➲ The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time ➮ Jonathan Weiner – Buyphenergan500.us
  • Paperback
  • 332 pages
  • The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time
  • Jonathan Weiner
  • English
  • 14 June 2018
  • 9780679733379

    10 thoughts on “[Read] ➲ The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time ➮ Jonathan Weiner – Buyphenergan500.us


  1. says:

    Wow.When I joined Goodreads a few months back, I set two rules for myself first, to review books as I read or re read them, and second, to be sparing with my ratings I ve not given any book five stars this summer This is the first.Weiner won the Pulitzer for general non fiction with this book in 1995 He utterly deserves it While it s not difficult to find an interesting non fiction book, and not too hard to find a truly gifted writer the market s competitive like that , finding someone who discusses science with such evocative, expressive language is a rarity Neither too dry nor too familiar, Weiner s writing is as wonderful as his subject matter.Rosemary and Peter Grant are two evolutionary biologists who did what no one had attempted to do before beginning in the early 70 s, they studied, measured, and documented every detail of the finches on Daphne Major, one of the Galapagos islands, in an effort to determine if evolutionary changes could be observed over a span of decades instead of eons Amazingly, they succeeded far beyond their expectations selection does not occur at the glacial pace Darwin envisioned, but at a flickering rate measurable over years, seasons, and days The smallest differences so small that no one had thought them worthy of study prior to the Grants have an effect so profound on a population that it s literally visible to the naked eye.A fabulous description of the dedication, tedium, and sheer amount of number crunching involved in field research, Weiner talks to many of the biologists inspired by the Grants those studying fish, insects, and viruses those gathering data that Darwin never thought possible to observe in the span of a single human lifetime.


  2. says:

    This is not a bad book it is OK There is room for improvement.It is a book of the popular science genre Having read them before, you know what is in store.The book is about evolution, and so about Darwin, natural selection and survival of the fittest Its central focus is a study of finches on Daphne Major, an island of the Galapagos archipelago Ancestors of the finches studied were collected by Darwin on the HMS Beagle journey to the islands in September and October 1835 The study was led by Peter and Rosemary Grant, began in 1973 and had been in progress for almost two decades when the book came out, in 1994 Thirteen species of finches have been studied, studied meticulously Body measurements, food and water availability, weather conditions, breeding habits and their song all were noted Every bird is measured and tagged Every bird is recognizable by Peter and Rosemary, and there are a lot of birds these two have kept track of The study is large The statistics have been crunched and analyzed in sophisticated computer programs at Princeton The effort and time and work devoted is impressive, yet the author s manner of excessively praising the Grants is out of place Other field studies are spoken of too Studies of sticklebacks and guppies are two which I found interesting I would have appreciated such studies They are concisely handled The book emphasizes the speed with which natural selection can take place Five times our biosphere has been in a period of such rapid change as that we are experiencing now.The book needs a better layout and organization I prefer the rigor of scientific analysis I am not looking for lyricism in a book such as this The book is repetitive Had it been properly edited and tightened it would be half its length.The book ends on a philosophical note warning of the consequences of increased gas emissions and global warming Victor Bevine narrates the audiobook He is not hard to understand but I could have done without his dramatization His impersonation of Darwin was ridiculous I have given the narration two stars The basic problem is that there is really nothing new or outstanding presented I would have preferred simply a clear, concise presentation of the field studies and what each showed, without excessive padding and repetition.


  3. says:

    Thoughts soon.


  4. says:

    I m ashamed to say that I didn t know until recently after reading Dawkins magnificent book The Ancestor s Tale that evolution can in fact be observed happening in real time and not only in as short a time as centuries, but also in decades and even years In that book, Dawkins spoke about Rosemary and Peter Grant in relation to their work on the Galapagos Islands on Darwin s finches and how they showed the role of evolution in explaining the immense diversity of life I tried to find a book on the subject and came across this one, which was also mentioned in the Bibliography of The Ancestor s Tale First, there is a thing that I didn t appreciate much in this book, and that is the style in which it was written Scientific books with journalistic and literary tones annoy and distract me a lot and if it were not for that, this book would have easily earned a perfect 5 star It is unique and intelligent, written sometimes with beautiful Dawkinsesque prose about the elegance and magnificence of evolution with beautiful allusion to the Judeo Christian myths in a manner that didn t suggest supernatural elements which can sometimes be imprudently used in scientific books I actually quite liked that since I happen to find the Judeo Christian myths of creation beautiful The Beak of the Finch had some very interesting ideas about the different paths evolution follows under different circumstances, such as when a species is being subjected to opposing selection forces by both sexual and natural selections, or when droughts and floods occur in successions Also, one of the most interesting ideas was the fact that when zooming in on the evolutionary history, the transition is often jagged and goes back and forth on the same or different paths Another powerful idea was speciation and how it occurs without necessarily being always caused by geographical isolation It only suffices that certain members of a species adapt to a different lifestyle from that of the others while living in the same environment, and given enough time the two groups can diverge to form different species following different lifestyles And finally, demonstrating the role of hybridization in speciation was really interesting and informative.The Beak of the Finch is not as much focused on finches as its title suggests In fact, the author believes that the finch s beak can be used to symbolize evolution itself, given the powerful insights it gave the scientists who studied it since decades, and most importantly its historical significance because of Darwins visit to the Galapagos It is a delightful idea and symbol.Evolution is indeed a fascinating and important topic and this book clearly shows how it is happening all around us We like to think that it happened a long time ago and long stretches of time are needed for its latest effects to surface Weiner shows how this is not always the case and how evolution can proceed with varying speeds under different conditions He shows the extent of the effects of our actions on the evolution of almost all the species around us including of course our own It is nice to remember that Heraclitus was right in saying that everything flows, which is not only true as regards the atoms of our bodies which are being replaced as I write these words, but also in relation to the changes that our species undergo as long as we have enough time, wisdom, and chance to be here.


  5. says:

    We are doing what the dinosaurs did before us, only faster.We bring strangers together to make strange bedfellows, and we remake the beds they lie in, all at once.


  6. says:

    A woodpecker finch becomes possible only on an island without a woodpecker, a warbler finch only without a warbler A flower browsing finch becomes possible where there are no bees and hummingbirds and on islands where bees have now invaded, many of Darwin s finches have given back the flowers.The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner won the Pulitzer Prize for Non Fiction in 1995 This book gets high marks as an homage to Darwin it follows a husband and wife s two decade long biological survey of finches beginning in the 1970s on a remote and tiny volcanic island, Daphne Major, in the Galapagos The study on Daphne Major was a first as it tracked natural selection in near real time by measuring every finch s beak and other physical characteristics The living laboratory was in effect a closed system There are only a handful of plants and seeds so the scientists knew which seeds each species of finch ate They saw which species of finch were likely to survive during droughts and which finches thrived during the wet years They used a lot of data to exploit the minute differences of beak length and width from one generation to the next This was all possible because the finches have no fear of humans and have no predators or competition other than finches.There is discussion of cross species breeding which is common than scientists once realized, of adaptive radiation where a single species diverges into two species, competition between birds and bees and a whole host of evolutionary topics.The scientific content in this book is a full five stars The writing style is breezy, for a science book, and at least four stars The big picture focus and interpretability is a full five stars The organization could have been a little better and the book is a little too long for its message, my only criticisms 4.5 stars There aren t that many science books written for a general audience that are this thought provoking and well researched and interpreted Some of the credit should go to the Grants of course the couple who ran this first study of its kind.


  7. says:

    As Jonathan Weiner points out in this classic of science writing, the word evolution comes from the Latin word for unfolding, rolling out like a scroll.That s an appropriate concept for this book, which unfurls before the reader an impressive array of late 20th century scientific research into natural selection, sexual selection and speciation all of it hammering home again and again Not only was Darwin right, he was righter than he knew.As the book s title implies, Weiner focuses on Darwin s finches, the baker s dozen of Galapagos species whose beaks so aptly tell the tale of adaptation and selection But he doesn t stop there Weiner shows us sticklebacks in British Columbia, fruit flies in labs all over the world, guppies in Venezuela, moth DNA in Ontario, and numerous other animals in numerous other places where scientists are observing evolution occur in front of their faces a process much faster and powerful than Darwin could have dreamed.What is most remarkable, however, is that this book was published in 1994, yet it remains deeply relevant Weiner was arguably 15 years ahead of his time in describing the threat of bacteria that evolve resistance to antibiotics, and his description of evolution sparked by global warming and other human caused processes now seems almost quaint in its cautious notes of alarm He describes cactus finches that mutilate and sterilize the very plants on which they rely for their existence, imperiling themselves and their species so they can get at the cactus nectar a few hours earlier than the others The tragedy of the commons is not just a human one as it turns out, the individual selfishness that makes evolution and capitalism, not to put too fine a point on it work collectively can backfire on birds, too.Weiner s main argument is that evolution for than a century was criticized by advocates and opponents alike for being mainly theoretical or logical it couldn t be observed, couldn t be tested, couldn t be proven Therefore, it wasn t real science Peter and Rosemary Grant s 30 plus years of work with the Galapagos finches have put to rest that argument once and for all, Weiner argues Evolution by variation and natural selection can be observed, and it has been It can be successfully tested, and it has been Not only a logical extrapolation of the fossil record and the selection imposed on pigeons and dogs by breeders, Darwinian evolution is in fact scientifically sound and much stronger a force than even its proponents realized Evolution is a not a river of sludge, moving so slowly you can t notice except through conjecture Rather, it is a swift moving current, a series of waves battering a coastline, and we humans, other animals, plants are pulled and pushed by the water moving in and out.That said, Weiner seems to want to make an additional argument He sprinkles the book with quotes from and allusions to the Bible He sets up some prominent creationists as foils for the Grants work He gets some comments from the scientists he interviews about their interactions with creationists Several chapters reference creation, metaphysics and God But in the end, Weiner can t seem to get onto the page whatever it is he wants to say about the perceived conflict between science and faith He worries at it like a dog with a bone, but he never sinks his teeth into it The string is left untied, like a line of data with the final numbers erased.Nevertheless, Weiner has written a monumentally helpful book, one that could easily be considered a sequel to Darwin s classic On the Origin of Species, so well does Weiner explicate and demonstrate Darwin s theory I ll be recommending this to anyone interested in learning about what evolution is and whether it s real.


  8. says:

    This was a really interesting look into the constant evolution of finches in the Galapagos Parts of it were a little slow and I definitely got bogged down by the constant repetition of beak and finch, though that probably couldn t be helped, given the subject , but other parts were very interesting The writing was also very good My least favorite part was the last few chapters when the author got away from finches and switched to humans I can see why he would do it because it s interesting to think about human evolution through the lens of finches, but it seemed like a weird transition to me Overall, this was pretty quick and interesting to read, even if I probably won t ever need to know anything about finches again.


  9. says:

    A cripplingly tedious account of cripplingly tedious field work that tends to confirm things that you thought were totally obvious For most people with a high school education, natural selection, at the level depicted in the book, is pure common sense Environmental pressures favor the survival fecundity of certain phenotypes that then tend to displace others Sexual preference, adaptive behaviors, and cross breeding affect this in several ways and, if the pressures are extreme, the changes can come fast The selective process can move in many directions and can recede altogether with the arrival and departure of such pressures You can write the whole substance of it on the back of an index card However, the book invites you experience every trial and tribulation of the marooned Galapagian finches and of the pathetic scientists who waste their lives watching and measuring them Predictable things happen in predictable ways You are along for the ride You could have read something else, but the reviews were so good you convince yourself that the book just HAS to get better soon There are efforts made to spice up the narrative the scientists heroically tell droll jokes in the face of unimaginable boredom, the finches are induced to enjoy inter species necrophiliatic intercourse with decapitated bird cadavers but no indulgence in humor or kinky sexcapades can make the finches very interesting The book gradually runs natural selection down and pounds it relentlessly into the guano encrusted tuff of Daphne Major However, mere natural selection does not alone give you evolution The book only dabbles in the critical issue of speciation It always refers to phenotypically distinct finch groups that tend not to interbreed as species, but, amazingly, the book never attempts a formal definition of species and does little than offer conversations amongst the forlorn scientists that the finch varieties indeed really just have to be separate species despite noisome interbreeding and whatnot This could have been the interesting part the critical part where durable evolutionary divergence happens Leave it to the finches to start interbreeding and melting back toward a single type The book actually comes alive when it ditches the finches in favor of something anything else Sadly, this happens in the final quarter, when you are also told of other things you already knew from high school and a few thing you might not have known a real treat and this happens at an intelligent pace another treat Then, to tie up the book, the author indulges in some big picture philosophical treatments that are too repetitive and uneven to be very satisfying.Don t get me wrong, the book is very well written in a mechanical sense Truly artful biblical references and adroit and soothing language serve to dull the reader s suffering as the pages slowly go by Even so, I have never hated the experience of a non fiction work as much as this I feel stupid for having finished it I now hate Darwin s finches and their vicissitudinous, environmentally selected beaks What a waste of my time I find myself hoping they soon go extinct and that the circumstances and causes of their extinction pass unobserved and unknowable.So, why do people like this tome 1 Some readers may be surprised to discover what natural selection is, having neither any education nor imagination that would have previously acquainted them with the idea 2 The book strives to support the theory of evolution, which many people reject for irrational or unscientific reasons Many readers need to be associated with the smart crowd who like evolution and liking this book reaffirms their participation in that smart group and further assures them they are totally unlike the other group, who instead intensely dislike the book for analogous reasons 3 They are, or are related to, one of the scientists whose tragic sacrifice on the altar of pointless empiricism is depicted in this heart wrenching monument to wasted lives Recommended for scientifically inclined boys of middling intellect, aged 12 to 16 years.


  10. says:

    In 1973 Rosemary and Peter Grant went to the Galapagos Islands to take a look at Darwin s finches The two Princeton evolutionary biologists went to study the finches at first hand on Daphne Major, an even isolated island in the middle of the Archipelago These famous finches are the ones that Charles Darwin encountered during his voyage on the HMS Beagle and which inspired his ideas on evolution The Grants went to see if they could observe evolution in action as they felt that even Darwin did not completely understand his own theory and the evolutionary process was not always the slow and gradual one he believed it to be They have been watching these finches ever since What they have found is proof of evolution in action observable within the single life of a finch or taking place in just a few years.The Beak of the Finch A Story of Evolution in Our Time is the story of how they did all this In the approximately 30 years that the Grant s and their various assistants have been watching, these tiny birds have shown a remarkable ability to quickly adapt to changes in the environment, climate, and other pressures that nature puts in their path The story here is absolutely an incredible one, told in exceptionally readable language In addition to the finches, the author goes on to discuss other theories that came out of this work Some of their former students went on to do their own experiments on hereditability, adaptation, hybridization in nature, bacterial resistance and resistance to pesticides This is a book that should fascinate anyone with even a small interest in the natural sciences or just an appreciation of the diversity and wonder of this world we live in.

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