Astonishingly, scientists observed, the new finch was established in just two generations, challenging the previous assumption that it takes hundreds of generations for a fresh species to evolve.
The news is likely to upset Young Earth Creationists, who reject the evolution of new species by natural selection, and this one especially stings because the species observed evolving in real time was a new type of Galapagos finch.
It all started with one courageous finch that chose to explore other islands and flew off to find a new mate among the native finch species on Daphne Major.
Scientists note that in 1981, a male large cactus finch that is believed to have come from the nearby island of Espanola, mated with a native finch on Daphne Major and produced offspring.
This gave rise to a population of finches, about 30 of them, that are distinctively different in appearance and behavior on the island of Daphne Major.
Darwin's finches evolve before scientists' eyes
"We didn't see him fly in from over the sea, but we noticed him shortly after he arrived". The team took more blood samples as they followed the lineage for six generations. It is, of course, easier to achieve the origin of a new species in a small island-like setting like Daphne Major in the Galapagos Islands. "He was so different from the other birds that we knew he did not hatch from an egg on Daphne Mayor".
This is a remarkable observation which is demonstrated by the fact that native females do not recognize the mating calls of the new species, which is a form of behavioral isolation, meaning that the two species can no longer breed and are distinct.
The new species of Darwins finch was observed during field work carried out over the last four decades by B Rosemary and Peter Grant, two scientists from the Princeton University in the USA, on the small island of Daphne Major. When one misguided bird found himself in the same situation, he didn't wallow in his own self pity; he created his own entirely new species. Because of this, they mated with their own species. The hybrid birds couldn't replicate the song of the native finches, and that, combined with their difference in size, prevented them from attracting mates.
Back in 1981, researchers working on a tiny volcanic island north of Santa Cruz called Daphne Major realized a unusual bird that didn't look like anything typically found on the remote dot of land. His species was from Española island. "Thus, the combination of gene variants contributed from the two interbreeding species in combination with natural selection led to the evolution of a beak morphology that was competitive and unique".
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