Jonathan Weiner’s Pulitzer Prize winning “The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time” turns 20 this year, and there is a rumor that a special anniversary edition is due out soon. If you are interested in the Galapagos Islands, evolution, or science in general, and haven’t yet read it, do yourself a favor and get a copy.
The book chronicles the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant, married scientists from Princeton who, at the time the book was first published, had spent 20 years studying the process of natural selection in Darwin’s famed finches on Daphne Major, a small, inhospitable island buttressed by sheer volcanic cliffs. Their findings, based on data painstakingly collected on over 18,000 birds, documented the process of evolution in real time as species changed and hybridized in response to changes in their environment. In the process, the Grants upended some of our most basic beliefs about life on earth and proved that Darwin’s theory was far more powerful than he could have imagined.