That’s, like, weird. From Wired:
As she gathered more and more data on different populations of the birds around the island, Langin had a revelation: The birds, members of one single species, had split into two varieties in different habitats. Island scrub jays living in oak forests have shorter bills, good for cracking acorns. Their counterparts in pine forests have longer bills, which seem better adapted to prying open pine cones. That may not appear to be something you’d consider a “revelation,” but it really is—if you believe in evolution. Ever since Darwin and his famous finches, biologists have thought that in order for a species to diverge into two new species, the two populations had to be physically isolated. Those finches, for instance, each live on a different Galapagos island, where their special circumstances have resulted in specialized bill shapes. Yet the two varieties of island scrub jay (they haven’t technically speciated—yet) live on the same tiny island. If they wanted to meet each other for a brunch of acorns and/or pine nuts and perhaps later some mating, they could just fly right over.
This is very, very weird. It’s an affront to a sacred tenet of evolution you probably learned in school: Isolation drives speciation. Well, speciation can also come about in a broadly distributed population, with individuals at one end evolving differently than individuals at the other, but nothing kicks evolution into overdrive quite like separation. Without it, two varieties should regularly breed and homogenize, canceling out something like different bill shapes (though rarely the two types of island scrub jay will in fact interbreed). And the island scrub jay isn’t alone in its evolutionary bizarreness. In the past decade, scientists have found more and more species that have diverged without isolation. Langin’s discovery with island scrub jays, published last week in the journal Evolution, is perhaps the most dramatic illustration of this yet. More.
Okay, first, knock out the bong pipe. Shower and put on some shoes. Have a look at the job board.
Darwin was wrong about everything except the fact that you could make a living somewhere, high in California. Turns out you can. About the rest, we dunno.
The birds had to be smarter than you. Not so hard.
By the way, all that Darwin’s finches stuff is nonsense too.
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