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Darwins Finches – Set of twelve Skulls (also known as the Galápagos finches) are a group of about fifteen species of passerine birds. They are often classified as the subfamily Geospizinae or tribe Geospizini. They belong to the tanager family and are not closely related to the true finches. They were first collected by Charles Darwin on the Galápagos Islands during the second voyage of the Beagle. Apart from the Cocos finch, which is from Cocos Island, the others are found only on the Galápagos Islands.
The term “Darwin’s finches” was first applied by Percy Lowe in 1936, and popularised in 1947 by David Lack in his book Darwin’s Finches. Lack based his analysis on the large collection of museum specimens collected by the 1905–1906 Galápagos expedition of the California Academy of Sciences. The birds vary in size from 10 to 20 cm and weigh between 8 and 38 grams. The smallest are the warbler-finches and the largest is the vegetarian finch. The most important differences between species are in the size and shape of their beaks, which are highly adapted to different food sources. The birds are all dull-colored.
A long term study carried out for more than 40 years by the Princeton University researchers Peter and Rosemary Grant has documented evolutionary changes in beak size affected by El Niño/La Niña cycles in the Pacific.
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