Africa's Lake Victoria is home to one of evolution's greatest experiments. In its waters, what began as a single lineage belonging to the cichlid family of fishes has since given rise to a dazzling array of forms. Like Charles Darwin's famous finches, which evolved a wide range of beak shapes and sizes to exploit the different foods available in the Galápagos Islands, these cichlids represent a textbook example of what biologists term an adaptive radiation—the phenomenon whereby one lineage spawns numerous species that evolve specializations to an array of ecological roles. But the Lake Victoria cichlids far surpass Darwin's finches in the astonishing speed with which they diversified: the more than 500 species that live there and only there today all evolved within the past 15,000 to 10,000 years—an eyeblink in geologic terms—compared with the 14 finch species that evolved over several million years.