Scientists from the University of Utah have performed a fascinating evolutionary experiment on the lice that live on pigeons. The results show that lice can begin to adapt to a new environment in four years or less. The lice were placed on pigeons with a variety of different feather color patterns. Over the course of just four years, the lice managed to change their own coloration to better blend in with the different environments they had been placed in.

Key Takeaways:

  • In his book, On The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin said that in his striving to study a special species, he has taken up domestic pigeons.
  • The pigeons were a fascination to Charles Darwin in his study of evolution because they have a wide variety with some having fantails, other feather-dusty feet, and frilly backs.
  • 160 years after Darwin’s study on pigeons and evolution, a team of scientists has turned to it to study evolution but this time concentrating on pigeon parasites.

“By placing feather-eating lice on white, black, and gray pigeons, researchers showed how the parasites change color to better blend in.”

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