Charles Darwin’ finches, world’s one of the most-researched birds, have once again drawn the attention of world researchers.
A team of scientists from the United States and Sweden have been conducting intensive research works on these birds.
Darwin and several other scientists have always thought of beak diversity that was observed in the species. This beak diversity is, however not witnessed anywhere else in science.
In relation to natural selection for these birds, Darwin’s theory said that the requirement to survive from varied food sources was responsible for this diversity.
Since finches’ common ancestor arrived at the Galapagos Islands over 200 million years ago, the finches were divided into 15 species that were known, and they are different from each other on the basis of body size, beak shape, song and feeding behavior.
Each species was found getting adapted to the particular island on which it lives. The beaks were used by the birds for variety of purposes as well as different food sources. Hence, it became increasingly necessary for them to have mutated genes within their species.
In addition, their sub-species were then found reproducing with each other, leading to the further mixing of genes. This further resulted in a jumbled up messy gene pool.
In ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’, Charles Darwin wrote, “One might really fancy that, from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends.”
In a statement, Leif Andersson of Uppsala University said, “I would not be amazed if it turns out that mutations with minor or minute effects on ALX1 function or expression contribute to the bewildering facial diversity among humans.”
The new scientists’ team closely observed the genetic structure of today’s finches and discovered that there is a gene called ‘ALX1’ which is the key driver of these birds. While they might not hold onus for the variations in beak size, they certainly were the only difference between some of the different species having two different beak types.
According to the researchers, the new study could assist in better studying finches, but how faces developed in people.
The study’s findings were detailed in the journal Nature.