That was quick
November 24, 2017 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Genetic analysis of Big Bird - no, not that one, the one discovered by legendary researchers Peter and Rosemary Grant (previously) - has been completed by Leif Andersson at Uppsala University and published in Science. What's special about the Big Bird lineage is that it was observed developing into a new species in only three (or two, according to the press release) generations. "Charles Darwin," said Andersson, "would have been excited to read this paper."
posted by clawsoon (5 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Malcolm: So you two, um, hmm, dig up—dig up dinosaurs?
Grant: We try to.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 12:15 PM on November 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

So many amazing tidbits. They found a tiny island with some strong variation in weather from year to year. They lived on the island tracking thousands of birds and taking blood samples and population numbers for four decades. That's a perfect setup to see evolution in action.

It's a little like Microcosmic God. I expect we'll soon see an impenetrable shield around the island and the couple and their finches will live merrily inside, untroubled by world politics.
posted by Emmy Noether at 2:27 PM on November 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Rapid speciation is actually part of the theory/claptrap/garbage science at the Noah Ark Experience in Kentucky.

That's how they get around the size of the ark - one (small) pair from each order or family, and in the 5000 or so years since, those orders have rapidly evolved into all of the current species of the world. The wide amount of dog breeds and variation therein is their big example.

I found the mini giraffe rather cute and brought a souvenir magnet of it back home.
posted by thecjm at 3:28 PM on November 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

thecjm: Rapid speciation is actually part of the theory/claptrap/garbage science at the Noah Ark Experience in Kentucky.

In discussions with young-earth creationists, I find that sticking to the evidence of what did and didn't happen, rather than speculation about what can and can't happen, to be most useful. Can rapid speciation happen? Yes. Does the evidence - fossils, radiometry, DNA - show that most of the species of the world have come into being since 2348 BC? No. (Unless you believe in a trickster God who was setting up a giant practical joke on 20th-century scientists to make the earth and the creatures therein appear to be a million times older than they actually are. Which is a possibility, but not one which they are usually comfortable with.)
posted by clawsoon at 3:45 PM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Now can they do something about the big bird over my house?
posted by SansPoint at 4:29 PM on November 24, 2017

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