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Fancy pigeon photographs courtesy of John Ross

Darwin decided to keep fancy pigeons to understand how they could be modified from the wild rock dove. He talked to other pigeon fanciers to learn more about the breeding process and this study fed into the first chapter of On the Origin of Species, where artificial selection is used as an analogy for natural selection.

John Ross, a modern-day pigeon fancier, has very generously donated these images of his pigeons of some of the same breeds that Darwin studied. For more information on Darwin's pigeon fancying, see his website Darwin's Pigeons.