Renowned evolutionary biologists speaking at Lakehead University

October 14, 2014 – Thunder Bay, ON

Two evolutionary biologists from Princeton University will present The Evolution of Darwin’s Finches at Lakehead University on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 pm in UC1017.

Peter and Rosemary Grant have spent much of their lives studying finches living on one of the smallest islands in the Galápagos archipelago, 1,000 km west of South America.

Their story is perhaps the clearest evidence yet for Charles Darwin’s famous quote that “from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

This is a great chance to learn more about the evolution of the finches that Darwin studied during his 1835 exploration of the Galápagos Islands on the HMS Beagle.

Darwin used the opportunity to explore many of the islands where he collected biological specimens including small seed-eating finches that he took back to England. These small birds helped form Darwin’s understanding of evolution that he began to articulate in his first book, The Voyage of the Beagle.

“There is a widespread myth that evolution through natural selection is ‘just a theory,” said Dr. Douglas Morris, Biology Professor at Lakehead University. “Peter and Rosemary Grant have, perhaps more than any others, documented that natural selection is a fact.”

Darwin’s insights came full circle in 1859 when he published the “theory” of evolution in his most famous book, On the Origin of Species. Although Darwin drew on numerous examples to illustrate how gradual changes in the form and function of species could eventually create new ones, he lacked definitive proof that such species emerge by common descent from their ancestors.

“Species change through time, and often more quickly than Darwin imagined. The Grants’ story is a compelling example of how a struggle for existence manifests dramatic changes in populations through short periods of time. It is a lesson that all of us must heed as species adapt in the face of unprecedented climate and habitat change,” Dr. Morris said.

“What better way to share that message than to invite the Grants to Lakehead University? Let them present the facts, and let open minds answer whether evolution is theory.”

Everyone is welcome to attend this free public lecture. Attendees can park for free after 6 pm and will find the UC1017 lecture theatre by using the entrance at the Agora Circle.

UC1017 is located across from Security Services in Lakehead University’s University Centre.



– 30 –



Media: For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media Relations Officer, at (807) 343-8177, or



In 2015, Lakehead University will celebrate 50 years of exceptional education.  Guided by a new Strategic Plan (2013-2018), our University is known for providing an education focused on independent thinking, unconventional scholarship, and a close sense of community.  About 9,700 students and 2,000 faculty and staff learn and work in ten faculties at two campuses, in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s first new Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and Faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health and Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, Science and Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education and Graduate Studies. Lakehead is among Canada’s Top 10 undergraduate universities (2014 Maclean’s University Rankings), as well as 1st in Ontario and 2nd in Canada for its innovative research (Re$earch Infosource).  Visit