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Carissa Davis

Melissa Schaefer

ANTH 1020


Darwins Finches Research:

One of the best known examples of the theory of evolution by natural selection is through

Darwins finches. He traveled over many area and gathered information about the species of the

Galapagos Islands and noticed a strange similarity between different species of birds with their

slight variations. One of those variations was their beak size, and this was to accommodate for

each environment and their diet. This process was sped up because of their isolation on the

different islands, and having to quickly adapt to the new food sources. Right now there are

fifteen different species of Darwins finches that come from a common ancestor. Luckily we

know so much about these species through the research of Peter and Rosemary Grant. (Herlekar

2) Many have taken this information and theory and have used it to hypothesize about their own

thought. Some scientists believe that the shape of a birds beak affect their song and can later

affect mating rituals and other things on top of how they eat. Darwins finches are an excellent

example to use because they come from the same ancestor but over time developed different

beaks. (Podos and Nowicki 1) This leads to the experiment we did in class. In the environment

we stimulated we had the classroom, and on the desks were scattered sunflower seeds while five

different types of birds (students with varying utensils) competed to survive the environment.

I hypothesized that overtime the chip clip birds would have a higher frequency than the tong

birds would. I came to this hypothesis because the sunflower seeds were smaller, and the chip

clips had a flatter surface than the tongs. I also thought the tongs would just be too big and
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awkward to pick up the seeds. The chip clips seemed like a happy medium between too big and

too small and seemed easier to use than the other beaks. There were already some beaks I

immediately ruled out, like the chopsticks, because it seemed too small of a grasp and too

uncomfortable to use.

In the experiment we used many different clips and utensils to try and pick up the

sunflower seeds spread across the table in sixty seconds to simulate the situation of Darwins

finches and how natural selection works. There were fifteen students in the class that all used

different beaks or utensils to pick up the sunflower seeds and put them in their stomachs

which were little dixie cups. The different types of beaks included tongs, chopsticks, tweezers,

chip clips, and hair clips. There were three students for every beak to begin with (the fifteen

students split up evenly), and after the sixty seconds they counted to see how many seeds they

could pick up and record it in a graph. The two students with the least amount of seeds died

and gave up their beaks after each round, and the two students with the most seeds were able to

reproduce and those were the new beaks given to the losers. After six generations or six rounds

of this gather all the information and see how many of each beaks were left at the end.

Beak Experiment Data:

Beaks Begin Gen 1 Gen 2 Gen 3 Gen 4 Gen 5 Gen 6

Tongs 3 3 2 3 3 2 1
Chopsticks 3 2 1 1 1 1 1
Tweezers 3 3 3 4 4 3 3
Chip Clips 3 4 5 4 4 5 6
Hair Clips 3 3 3 4 4 3 3
Total 15 15 15 15 15 15 15
In this graph it shows the total number of beaks throughout the generations. It lists the

types of beaks and how there were always 15 birds. There was never a beak that went out of

extinction and only one beak grew in size, the chip clip, while the others either stayed the same
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or decreased. The chip clips did not always have the most and between the tweezers, chip clips,

and hair clips the total number of birds would rise and fall. However, chip clips came out in the

end generation with six birds compared to the next highest which was three.

Number of Beaks Over Time

Chart Title

Begin Gen 1 Gen 2 Gen 3 Gen 4 Gen 5 Gen 6

Tongs Chop Sticks Tweezers Chip Clips Hair Clips

This is a line graph over time to get more of a visual of how the beaks either grew in size

or decreased. You can tell that it gets mixed a lot and not one beak was extremely more

beneficial than another. You can tell how the chopsticks werent very useful, but they managed

to stay alive through the six generations with one beak. The certain traits of the different beaks

determined whether or not they were successful in the situation that was simulated. The beaks

that did well were beaks that had easier control like the tweezers and chip clips. These also had a

bit flatter tips that could pick up the sunflower seeds. The beak that had the hardest time were the

chopsticks because it was harder to control and had little surface area to pick up with. Over time

the chip clips increased in frequency while the others occasionally increased or remained the

same. Not one beak stayed at three birds and none of the birds went extinct.
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In conclusion to my hypothesis this date supports what I had guessed. The chip clips were

better to the environment that was created because it had a flatter surface area and was easier to

control. The tongs performed well but decreased in frequency over time. In the end it was six

chip clip birds compared to the one remaining tong bird. The tongs did better than expected, but

still failed to pass the chip clip birds. Knowing this some things that could have affected the

experiment were the location and number of seeds in each area. It was not evenly spread out each

time and those who won usually kept those seeds nearby making it even harder for the other

beaks to get a chance. Secondly because it was students simulating the experiment there was not

a life or death feeling a real bird might have if they dont eat. Meaning that the birds in real life

might be more competitive than the students simulating them. It was often the same people who

were the two losers no matter what beak they had. There were also very few students to start

with that doesnt give a lot of data. If this were to be replicated the chip clips should be more

than the tongs at the end of the experiment and would prove that natural selection in this

environment is better for the chip clip than the tongs.

The scientific method is a process where you form a hypothesis, gather data, experiment

on this data, and make a conclusion about the results. Many areas use this method, everyone uses

it in their life, but in a less scientific way. Businesses could use this method because in order to

improve profits they could gather some data and make a hypothesis about what will work best

then experiment with that and see if it worked or not. In this experiment that we had done in

class. We made a hypothesis, mine was that chip clips would do better than tongs, and then we

simulated an environment. We experimented and tested over and over again how well the beaks

would do. In the end the data we had gathered proved my hypothesis that the chip clips would do

better because they ended with six birds while the tongs ended in one. The experiment was an
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example of the theory because certain beaks were more beneficial in the simulated environment

than others and those beaks were able to reproduce and gain more beaks. That is an example of

natural selection because in real life a certain trait, like a beak, would be helpful in some

situations and not in others, and over time the ones that were helpful would be able to reproduce

and continue growing as a species. That makes the trait more frequent and therefor the

population of the bird go up. There are many different types of primates. We as humans evolved

from a similar ancestor to the apes making us a primate as well, but we evolved so much that we

could adapt to basically any environment we are in. This is because of the technology that weve

made and our ability to be social. Monkeys differ from apes because they get their food

differently. Monkeys have tails to balance and grab food from high in the trees whereas the

chimpanzee does not have a tail and gathers some of its food from termite holes. All these

characteristics are examples of natural selection because these traits helped them survive the

environment they were given, and have the ability to reproduce and grow as a population.
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Works Cited

Podos, Jeffrey, aPodos, Jeffrey, and Stephen Nowicki. "Beaks, Adaptation, and Vocal Evolution

in Darwins Finches." BioScience 54.6 (2004): 501. Science Reference Center. Web. 23

June 2017.nd

Herlekar, Ipsita. "A close look at Darwin's Finches." Current Science Vol. 108 Issue 7, p1203-

1203, 3/4p. Science Reference Center. Web 23 June 2017 .nd