A single base pair change that turned a colorful bird entirely black probably guided the formation of a new species, researchers linkurl:report;http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/action/showForthcomingToc?journalCode=an in the August issue of __The American Naturalist__.
Melanic (above) and chestnut-
bellied (below) Monarch flycatchers

Image: J. Albert Uy
"It looks like we have a single mutation that's driving speciation in these birds," linkurl:J. Albert Uy,;http://biology.syr.edu/uy/ an evolutionary biologist at Syracuse University in New York, who led the study, told __The Scientist__. "It's one of the first if not only examples of this kind of thing in vertebrates." Eighty years ago, the late Harvard zoologist linkurl:Ernst Mayr;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Mayr visited the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific and marveled at the variation in plumage color of the linkurl:Monarch flycatcher;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_flycatcher (__Monarcha castaneiventris__), a small, insect-eating songbird with a long, fanned tail. In particular, two flycatcher populations that lived on islands eight kilometers apart caught Mayr's eye. One had a chestnut-colored...

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