Finch Beak Evolution/Adaptation Demo


The first time I saw this was in a colleagues classroom a few years back. The procedure is simple:
  1. Get a plethora of seeds and nuts.
    1. Sunflower
    2. Thistle
    3. Wildflowers
    4. Watermelon or Honeydew
    5. Apricot
    6. Peanuts
    7. Walnuts
    8. WHATEVER!
  2. Obtain from home or the school shops or maintenance as many different kinds (sizes) of pliers.
    1. Small tweezers. Like the itty ones in a Swiss Army Knife.
    2. Precision electrical pliers. These are really really tiny!
    3. Needle nose. Various sizes.
    4. Regular household pliers.
    5. Large adjustable 'plumbers' pliers.
    6. 'Monkey' Wrench
    7. Any pliers!
  3. Have the kids, a pair of kids, pick a pair of pliers (that's a SINGLE pliers, not two of them...).
  4. Now, dump the seed mixture in front of them and tell them to 'cleanly' pick up their 'food'.
  5. Watch the fun as the kids quickly see that the shape and size of their pliers dictates what they can 'eat'.

What is this devised to show? Simply the evolutionary adaptation of the myriad of finches on the Galapagos that Darwin noted. Each finch in each area had devised a specialized beak based on the available food sources. Some had dainty thin beaks to eat thistle and small seeds. Others developed massive thick beaks to break nuts.


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