New species evolve in just two generations

New species can develop in just two generations Study

New species can develop in just two generations Study

A team of researchers led by Leif Andersson from Uppsala University, in Sweden, report the emergence of a new species of finch, dubbed Big Bird, arising from an initial cross breeding between two species, the large cactus finch (Geospiza conirostris) and the medium ground finch (Geospiz fortis).

The various groups of finches in the Galapagos had been aptly named "Darwin's finches" to commemorate Charles Darwin, the famous scientist who developed his theory of evolution by way of natural selection after spending time on the islands, one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, and observing the species, especially the finches which he wrote about extensively in his personal journals. "Through our work on Daphne Major, we were able to observe the pairing up of two birds from different species and then follow what happened to see how speciation occurred". Because he had no birds of his species to mate with on Daphne Major, he chose a mate from one of the native species. He sang a different song to the other birds, and his body and beak were unusually large compared to all the other birds.

The graduate student was on the Galapagos island called Daphne Major when he noticed the bird.

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Researchers studying the population of finches on Daphne Major, a tiny Galapagos island, found that a population of birds here evolved into new species in a relatively short period of time.

Scientists from Uppsala University analysed DNA collected from the parent birds and their offspring over the years. As a result, Big Birds exclusively mated with their own lineage over the years, resulting in the evolving of a completely new species without any genetical traces of local finches.

Because his home was so far away, he did not have the choice to go home.

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The newcomer, a male with an unusual song which was larger in size than the three resident species on the island, was spotted in 1981. However, these were not able to attract native finches for copulation and thus had to mate within their own new species, making them genetically and reproductively isolated. The assumption that it takes long stretches of time to create new species has been tossed out the window, and the ongoing study of the Big Birds revealed that it takes as little as two generations for an entirely new species to take root.

The researchers involved in this study have noted that such remarkable and fast evolution was made possible by reproductive isolation, which is a critical step in the creation of a new species from interbreeding of two separate species. Most of these will have gone extinct, but some may have led to the evolution of contemporary species.

"We have no indication about the long-term survival of the Big Bird lineage, but it has the potential to become a success, and it provides a attractive example of one way in which speciation occurs".

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He plays county cricket for Yorkshire, and made his England Test debut as against West Indies in May 2012. The incident was relatively minor and police were not involved.

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