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Learning from Darwin's Finches

The Galápagos Islands are home to some of the most amazing plants and animals. One group of animals, the Galapagos finches, have been the focus of biologists ever since Darwin wrote about them in his book, On the Origin of Species. Dr. Biology had the opportunity to sit down with Peter and Rosemary Grant to talk about the more than 30 years they spent studying what have come to be called Darwin’s finches. Don't miss listening to this Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson adventure that includes the Grants' two children.

Content Info | Transcript


MP3 download | 15MB

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Topic Time
Introduction. 00:00
How long did you spend researching finches in the Galapagos? 01:50
Which islands do you work on? 02:16
Daphne Island. 02:43
What's it like living on Daphne Island? 03:28
Misunderstandings of evolution. 05:06
Did you know you'd see evolution in action? 05:44
Observations on fast evolution. 06:18
What were you measuring? 07:09
Is "survival of the fittest" a good phrase to use? 07:54
What happens when the environment changes again? 09:14
Beak variation. 10:54
Darwin's finches in the Galapagos Islands. 11:50
How do you catch the finches and what do you measure? 12:49
How many birds have you captured? 13:48
Vampire...finches? 13:56
Other interesting finches. 15:02
Do you have a favorite finch? 16:15
How the finches learn certain behaviors. 17:40
Did your whole family collect data on the finches? 18:07
Choosing to grow up visiting the Galapagos. 18:38
Immersing the kids in nature and science. 19:14
Independence in science can make a big difference for kids. 20:03
Funny stories in the Galapagos. 20:16
Three questions. 22:15
Rosemary, when did you first know you wanted to be a biologist? 22:26
When Peter first knew he wanted to be a biologist. 23:36
Peter, if you couldn't do science or teach, what would you do? 24:46
Rosemary, if you couldn't do science or teach, what would you do? 26:22
Peter's advice to people interested in biology. 27:07
Rosemary's advice to people interested in biology. 29:19
Sign-off 30:28

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Learning from Darwin's Finches

Audio editor: Eric Moody

Illustration of finch beaks from Voyage of the Beagle

Illustration of finch beaks from Darwin's book, Voyage of the Beagle. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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Illustration of finch beaks from Voyage of the Beagle

Illustration of finch beaks from Darwin's book, Voyage of the Beagle. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.