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Darwin's finches

Darwin's finches or Galapagos finches (gəlä´pəgōs´), species of small perching birds, constituting the subfamily Geospizinae of the tanager family. Not related to the true finches, this group of at least fifteen species is confined to the Galápagos Islands, except for a single species found on Cocos Island, about 600 mi (960 km) northeast. Their special adaptations to various habitats were important evidence considered by Charles Darwin in formulating the theory of evolution; they are a striking example of adaptive radiation.

Geographically isolated and without competition from similar species, Darwin's finches developed distinctive anatomy (particularly beak size and shape) and behaviors, with each species exploiting a unique feeding niche. The bill is adapted in the different species for different purposes, such as crushing seeds, pecking wood, and probing flowers for nectar. The woodpecker finch, Camarhynchus pallidus or Cactospiza pallida, an insect-eater, holds twigs and cactus spines in its beak to fish out larvae in tree cavities. Darwin proposed that the Galapagos finches evolved on the islands from a single bird species from mainland South America. Modern methods of DNA (genetic) analysis have confirmed his insight. Darwin's finches are classified in several genera of the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Thraupidae, subfamily Geospizinae.

See P. Grant, Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches (1986).

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Darwin's finches

Darwin's finches (Galapagos finches) The 14 species of finch, unique to the Galapagos Islands, that Charles Darwin studied during his journey on HMS Beagle. Each is adapted to exploit a different food source. They are not found on the mainland because competition there for these food sources from other birds is fiercer. Darwin believed all the Galapagos finches to be descendants of a few that strayed from the mainland, and this provided important evidence for his theory of evolution. See also adaptive radiation.

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Darwin's finches

Darwin's finches Fourteen species of Geospizinae that are endemic to the Galápagos Islands. There are only six species of all other passerine birds and one species of cuckoo on the islands. Thus it is inferred that an ancestor of the finches arrived on the islands before other birds and then underwent adaptive radiation. Each species has evolved a distinctive beak type, and feeds on food not eaten by the other species.

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Darwin's finches

Darwin's finches a group of songbirds related to the buntings and found on the Galapagos Islands, discovered by Charles Darwin (see Darwinism) and used by him to illustrate his theory of natural selection. They are believed to have evolved from a common ancestor and have developed a variety of bills to suit various modes of life.

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