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An Origin of Species

Introduction | Storm | Pollenpeepers' New Homes | Windsor Island | Warwick Archipelago | Gallery

honeycreeper honeycreeper honeycreeper

What do these birds have in common? Very little, judging from their specialized beaks, body types, and behaviors.

Yet close examination and molecular analyses reveal otherwise. Each is a member of a family of birds called honeycreepers, and they all share the same common ancestor: a single finchlike species that scientists estimate arrived on the Hawaiian Islands about 5 million years ago. At one time there were as many as 57 species of honeycreepers.

This is certainly not the first time living creatures have taken the dramatic evolutionary pathway known as adaptive radiation. The Species Gallery highlights some of the most extraordinary outcomes of this very common process.

How can one species evolve in so many different directions?

-> Explore what Darwin called "the mystery of mysteries"

Intro | Storm | Pollenpeepers' New Homes | Windsor Island | Warwick Archipelago | Gallery

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