by Greg Mayer
In today’s Science Times, Carl Zimmer has a nice article on Darwin’s favorite birds, pigeons. “Whoa”, you say, “Pigeons? Don’t you mean finches?” No, pigeons it is. While we’ve grown accustomed to associating Darwin’s name with the 15 or so finches of the Galapagos Archipelago (plus one species on Cocos Island), the term “Darwin’s finches” was coined by the British ornithologist Percy Lowe in only 1936, and popularized by David Lack in his 1947 monograph Darwin’s Finches. Darwin collected and observed finches in the Galapagos, and wrote about them, especially in the Voyage of the Beagle, but he spent many more years studying pigeons, and learned a great deal from them.
Darwin was greatly interested in the work of plant and animal breeders in creating and modifying domestic varieties, and the
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