Galapagos Big Birds Can Develop in as Little as Two Generations

As we all know, nature is the storehouse of wonders, and numerous events are happening around us which are astonishingly implausible. Till now, modern science thought that evolution is a process which happens in a long course of time. However, newly, scientists discovered a new species of finches in Galapagos Island which evolved into a completely new species within a very short period of time. Researchers revealed that new species can develop in as little as two generations and the findings would have left Charles Darwin excited. The arrival of 36 years ago of a peculiar bird to a remote island in the Galapagos provides direct genetic evidence of their claims.

The newcomer, who belonged to one species, mated with a member of another species on the small island of Daphne Major in the Pacific Ocean. Therefore this produced a new species, recognized as the “Big Birds” that now involves of approximately 30 birds, according to researchers from Princeton University and Uppsala University in Finland. The researchers took a blood sample and released the bird, which later bred with a resident medium ground finch of the species Geospiz fortis, starting a new lineage. The Grants and their research team followed the new “Big Bird lineage” for six generations, taking blood samples for use in genetic analysis.

The new study, published in the journal Science, followed work carried out over the last four decades on Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos Islands. 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, Rosemary Grant, senior biologist at Princeton in the US, said:  The newcomer, a male with an rare song which was larger in size than the three resident species on the island, was spotted in 1981. He was so different from the other birds that we knew he did not hatch from an egg on Daphne Major.” It is very remarkable that when we match the size and shape of the Big Bird beaks with the beak morphologies of the other three species inhabiting Daphne Major, the Big Birds occupy their own niche in the beak morphology space.

The current study, DNA collected from the parent birds and their offspring over the years. They learned that the original male parent was a large cactus finch of the species Geospiza conirostris from EspaƱola Island, more than 100km away. The distance meant the male finch could not return home to mate with a member of his own species, so chose a mate from among the three species on Daphne Major. Thus, this reproductive isolation is considered a critical step in the development of a new species when two separate species interbreed. It is believed that the amount of time these birds spent on birdfeeders has resulted in this evolution and its infrequent growth from the 1970s and is still continuing today.

The offspring were also reproductively isolated as their song, used to attract mates, was unusual and failed to attract females from the resident species. They also differed from the resident species in beak size and shape, which is a major cue for mate choice. This led the offspring to mate with members of their own lineage, strengthening the development of the new species. Researchers previously thought the formation of a new species takes a very long time. But in the Big Bird lineage, it happened in just two generations, according to observations made in the field, along with the genetic studies. The researchers say a striking aspect is that after just two generations, the new lineage behaved as any other species of Darwin’s finches would. Leif Andersson, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, said: “A naturalist who came to Daphne Major without knowing that this lineage arose very recently would have recognised this lineage as one of the four species on the island.

This clearly demonstrates the value of long-running field studies. We’ve no indication about the long-term survival of the Big Bird lineage, but it has the huge potential to become a success, and it offers a stunning example of one way in which speciation occurs. The scientists said it is probable that new lineages like the Big Birds have originated numerous times during the evolution of Darwin’s finches. The majority of these lineages have gone extinct but some may have led to the evolution of contemporary species, they concluded.Source: Charismatic Planet

Dusky Lory Parrot

An eye-catching parrot “The dusky lory” (Pseudeos fuscata) is a species of parrot in the family Psittaculidae. Alternative common names are the white-rumped lory or the dusky-orange lory. This beautiful parrot is short tailed just 25cm long, and has mainly brown and whitish back and rumps. Mostly it is found in New Guinea and the offshore islands of Batanta, Yapen and Salawati. The dusky lory's native range includes New Guinea below about 2500m in both the Indonesian zones of the island. It is also native to the nearby Indonesian islands of Salawati and Yapen.
The Dusky Lory has two color phases; the band across the upper chest together with its abdomen is either yellow or orange. However, the beak is dark orange, and an area of bare orange skin at the base of its lower mandible. The irises are red and the legs are grey. As far as external appearance the both male and females are identical. Though, the juveniles are duller with a yellowish back and rump, yellowish-grey irises, and a beak that is yellow at the base and brown/black towards the tip. The Dusky Lory natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. Dusky Lory calls heard as harsh and grating screeches. They reach reproductive maturity when they are about 2 to 2.5 years old. Lories are typically quite easily bred; so many Lory species are readily available. The average clutch consists of 2 - 3 eggs, which are incubated for 24 - 25 days. The young fledge when they are about 10 weeks old.
The parrot wild Diet consists of flowers, fruits, seeds, nuts and insects. Lories require a higher percentage of fruit, buds, nectar and pollen in their diet. In fact, in the wild, they can feed on as many as 640 flowers in a one day. They also feed on seeds and unripe grain. Their ecology and behavior is very social, forming large, boisterous flocks. He mainly relies on availability of flowering trees for food and is therefore nomadic, and roosts communally in large groups. However, this stunning species is considered endangered within their natural range, typically due to habitat destruction; there is a high demand for these birds as pets or aviary birds, and they have been doing well in captivity and are, therefore, regionally readily available on the pet market. Maybe the most playful of the lories, excellent pets and great talkers. The only drawback is their terrible, high pitched screeching! They would never work in an apartment. It can live 28 to 32 years, and one of the major contributors of ill health and early death in pet birds is the fact that their specific dietary needs are neglected.