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Running head: NATURAL SELECTION

Natural Selection Lab Report
Taylor Palmer
Anthropology 1020
February 1, 2015

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Natural Selection Lab Report

Introduction
Darwin’s finch observations sparked a revolution in the theory of evolution. One source says that
Darwin’s observations of the finches “deduced that these differences made the finches better adapted to
take advantage of the food in their particular local environment” (Darwin’s Finches, 2000). Another
examined the genetic variation of the finches (Cromie, 2006). Both of these articles stated the essential
part of evolution by natural selection: favorable traits will succeed. Also, both recognize that certain
variations might not always be favorable.
My hypothesis for this experiment was that the clothes pins would increase in frequency. I thought this
would happen because the size of the seeds seemed to fit pretty well in the clothes pins opening,
without causing too much stress for the person handling the beak. Also, the clothes pins were a good
size, and didn’t stress the grabber’s hand too much, so they could go a little bit faster.
Materials and Methods
The materials used in the beginning were as follows: a lot of sunflower seeds (more than two hundred),
a surface for the seeds (we used desks), a timer, two sets of tongs, five clothes pins, five chop sticks,
five binder clips, five sets of tweezers, five chip clips, five large hair clips, one small hair clip, and a
person to operate each of the grabbers. There should be extra of each of the grabbers, but these are the
starting amounts.
The experiment was to see which “beak” sufficiently gathered the most amount of seeds, to understand
how having certain traits can work in certain environments. To set the stage, spread out seeds on the
surface, making sure there aren’t clumps (no seed should be closer than an inch from another). Set the
timer for sixty seconds, and using all of the beaks (have multiple people using them, to create a
realistic environment), gather the seeds. After the first sixty seconds, count how many seeds each beak
collected. The three beaks with the most amount of seeds and the three with the least should be
separated. Replace the beaks with the least amount with beaks of the winners of that round. Repeat for
another round. After the second round, add a small hair clip instead of adding a large hair clip. Repeat

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for three more rounds.
Results:
Beak type
Tongs

Beginning
#:2
Freq. :

1
16

Binder clips

Tweezers

Chip clips

Round 2
#:3
Freq. :

Round 3
#:3
Freq. :

Round 4
#:3
Freq. :

Round 5
#:3
Freq. :

3
32

3
32

3
32

3
32

3
32

#:5
Freq. :

#:7
Freq. :

#:8
Freq. :

#:9
Freq. :

# : 10
Freq. :

5
32

5
32

7
32

1
4

9
32

5
16

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:4
Freq. :

#:3
Freq. :

#:2
Freq. :

#:1
Freq. :

5
32

5
32

1
8

3
32

1
16

1
32

#:5
Freq. :

#:3
Freq. :

#:1
Freq. :

#:1
Freq. :

#:1
Freq. :

#:1
Freq. :

5
32

3
32

1
32

1
32

1
32

1
32

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

5
32

5
32

5
32

5
32

5
32

5
32

#:5
Freq. :

#:7
Freq. :

#:6
Freq. :

#:6
Freq. :

#:8
Freq. :

#:9
Freq. :

Clothes pins # : 5
Freq. :

Chop sticks

Round 1
#:3
Freq. :

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Large hair

4

5
32

7
32

3
16

3
16

1
4

9
32

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:5
Freq. :

#:4
Freq. :

#:3
Freq. :

5
32

5
32

5
32

5
32

1
8

3
32

#:1
Freq. :

#:1
Freq. :

1
32

1
32

clips

Small hair

#:0
Freq. : 0

#:0
Freq. : 0

clips

Beaks through Time
10
9
8
Tongs

7

Clothes pins

6
Number of Beaks

Chop sticks
Binder Clips

5

Tweezers

4

Chip clips
Large hair clips

3

Small hair clips

2
1
0
Beginning 1s t round 2nd round 3rd round 4th round 5th Round

Time passed (in intervals of 60 seconds)

The clothes pins ended up with ten in the end of testing (gaining five). The tongs had three (gaining
one). The chop sticks had one (losing four). The binder clips had one (losing four). The tweezers had
five (remaining the same). The chip clips had nine (gaining four). The large hair clips had three (losing

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two). The small hair clip (after the mutation) was around for only two rounds, and ended with zero
(losing one). The clothes pins ended up being the most successful, increasing in frequency, and the
chop sticks and binder clips were least successful, decreasing.
Conclusion
My hypothesis was supported by the data, because the hypothesis stated that the clothes pins would
increase in frequency. The clothes pins not only increased in frequency, but were the most successful of
the bunch, gaining more offspring throughout the course of the experiment than any other beak.
However, the results could’ve been influenced by more than just the beak type. The people involved
had a lot to do with the speed of the beaks. If one person had not been motivated to move fast, a beak
with the potential to be successful could’ve been just average or even unsuccessful. Also, if a person
moves naturally faster than another person, their beak would’ve been faster too, and that’s not
something that the beak type could’ve impacted.
If more versions of this experiment are conducted and the results are similar or the same, then the
results must be valid for my experiment. The possible outside factors could have affected my results,
but if more experiments see the same results, then the outside factors wouldn’t necessarily matter as
much; there’s no way individual people share views on speed and motivation, so the correlation
between results would mean that the positive or negative outcomes of each beak would depend on the
type rather than the operator.
Discussion
The scientific method is the method by which a theory can be made. First, a question has to be asked.
Then, research is done to see what others have done to figure out the question. A hypothesis is formed
based on the research, and a method is developed to test the hypothesis. After testing, a conclusion is
formed that either supports or refutes the hypothesis.
A lot of fields use the scientific method. Outside of the obvious (other fields of science), advertising
uses this method, and experiments with different techniques to generate more interest (Bull & Pease,

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1996). Also, news reporting, and cooking both use the scientific method to generate positive results
(Bull & Pease, 1996). In fact, many more fields use the scientific method, because the goal of many is
to enhance the results of certain actions, or to see how an action impacts success.
This activity fully exhibited the scientific method. In the beginning, we learned about the topic, and
developed our hypothesis based on what we knew from past research. Then, we developed a method
and tested, to find out if the hypotheses could possibly be supported. We formed conclusions, at the
end, and throughout the experiment we shared results.
Evolution by natural selection is possible only when there is variation in a species. Some traits,
depending on the environment, will be favorable or unfavorable, depending on the environment.
Natural selection only works on traits that are inherited, meaning they can’t be picked up later in life.
The traits that tend to do well will be more prominent in later generations of the species, because the
unfavorable ones tend to make survival difficult, and also because favorable traits allow for more
offspring.
This activity supported evolution by natural selection because it was basically a classroom sized
version of a real environment for birds. There was variation, and certain type of traits made survival
easier. Also, since the amount of seeds was limited, the beaks that were able to get seeds quickly had a
huge advantage over those that took longer to collect. Essentially, this activity showed that the traits
promoting survival were passed on to offspring more than traits that didn’t promote that.

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Sources
Bull, J.J., & Pease, C.M. (1996). Scientific Decision-making. Austin, TX: University of Texas.
Cromie, W.J. (2006). How Darwin's finches got their beaks. Retrieved from
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/08.24/31-finches.html
Darwin’s Finches (2000). Retrieved from
http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/tis2/index.php/evidence-for-evolution-mainmenu65/53-darwins-finches.html