Why Darwin’s Finches?
In part, says Dr. Kleindorfer, they’re fascinating to study because, “They are the best-known example for vertebrate evolution in the wild, and they are also the most recent example of adaptive radiation of the vertebrate lineage. So Darwin’s finches speciated into 14 species in under 2 million years, which is incredibly rapid. It’s the best example that we humans know of now, and they’ve provided transformative insights about evolutionary processes and oscillating evolutionary dynamics, how evolutionary dynamics change over time, and in relation to what factors.”
What Is It Like to Work in the Galapagos?
“For a biologist it’s the most inspiring place on the planet to work because it’s so young, and you can see all of the evolutionary processes before your eyes. The other thing that’s just really amazing about the Galapagos is, because there are no native mammalian predators (there are just a few little rodents), the animals there aren’t afraid of mammals. For example, I had this epiphany when I was standing by a lake in the Galapagos. I felt really odd, and then I realized it was because the flamingos were slowly walking towards me. In every other place I’ve visited, the wildlife would slowly retreat.”