Which Beak is Best?

A classic illustration of evolutionary theory, made by Charles Darwin in his book "^IA Naturalist's ^IVoyage^i", London 1889. The drawing shows the beaks of four species of finches found in the Galapagos Islands. Darwin drew the conclusion that they all probably came from a common ancestor, but had diversified and evolved to adapt to local food supplies on the different islands. In his own words, "Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends."

As part of our ‘Evolution and Adaptation’ Science topic this term, Year 6 have been exploring Darwin’s theory of ‘Natural Selection’, ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and ‘Inheritance’.

We were especially fascinated by Darwin’s Galapagos Islands’ bird observations in which he realised that, after stormy weather that destroyed particular food, certain birds’ beaks were more suited to the food that remained. We put the theory to the test, exploring different sized beaks and how effective they were at gathering certain food. We did of course have to replicate bird beaks and food using all sorts of imaginative resources:

And our findings? A kestrel’s beak is VERY well adapted to its environment!

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