Activity for The Beak of the Finch
This activity explores the concepts and research presented in the short film The Origin of Species: The Beak of the Finch, which documents the main findings from four decades of investigations on the evolution of the Galápagos finches.
Evolutionary biologists Rosemary and Peter Grant spent four decades tracking changes in body traits directly tied to survival in the famous Galápagos finches. They also identified behavioral characteristics that prevent different species from breeding with one another. Their pioneering studies documented natural selection in real time and revealed clues about how 13 distinct finch species arose from a single ancestral population that migrated from the mainland 2 million to 3 million years ago.
The “Student Handout” probes students’ understanding of the key concepts addressed in the film. The “Educator Materials” document provides suggested pause points in the film with questions for students, background information, and detailed discussion points; a list of related resources and references; and an answer key for the “Student Handout.”
Student Learning Targets
- Use data to explain some of the key research findings of Peter and Rosemary Grant about the evolution of the Galápagos finches.
adaptation, ecological niche, speciation, trait
Grant, Peter R., and B. Rosemary Grant. How and Why Species Multiply. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2008.
Weiner, Jonathan. The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1994.
HS-LS2-1, HS-LS3-3, HS-LS4-3, HS-LS4-5; SEP6
1.A.1, 1.A.2, 1.A.4, 1.C.1, 1.C.2; SP6
5.1, 5.4, C.1
CC1, CC5; DP1