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Epigenetics may be how Darwin’s finches rapidly change their beak size and shape in response to sudden environmental changes, such as drought or human disturbance, in the absence of gene mutations. Sabrina McNew. A small ground finch ( Geospiza fuliginosa ; left) and a medium ground finch ( Geospiza fortis ; right) at the rural study site. (Credit: Sabrina McNew | doi: 10.1186/s12862-017-1025-9 ). 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.”. — Charles Darwin, in Voyage of the Beagle , 2nd ed., (1845), p. 380. Full story

18 September