This website aims to tell you nearly everything you need (and may ever want) to know about convergent evolution. It allows you to explore the way that similar adaptive solutions have repeatedly evolved from unrelated starting points on the tree of life, as though following a metaphorical ‘map’.
We have identified hundreds of examples of convergence, so if you want to learn about convergence in sex (e.g. love-darts), eyes (e.g. camera-eyes in jellyfish), agriculture (e.g. in ants) or gliding (e.g. in lizards and mammals) then this is your best port of call.
A note to all book-lovers out there: many of the examples of convergence mentioned in the Map of Life can be found in Simon Conway Morris’s latest book, The Runes of Evolution.
Any of the information presented in the Map of Life may be freely reproduced, as long as it is acknowledged fully. Citation details can be found at the bottom of each Topic page.
Showcase Topic: Adhesive pads: from geckos to spiders
In terms of adhesive pads we find they have a remarkably wide distribution evolving in at least four distinct groups, including members of the reptiles, amphibians, arthropods and mammals, with tentative parallels in sea urchins.
Spotlight on Research:
“Octopuses use a human-like strategy to control precise point-to-point arm movements”
G. Sumbre, G. Fiorito, T. Flash & B. Hochner 2006, Current Biology, volume 16, pages 767-772.
At first glance, nothing could be more different from a human arm than the highly flexible arms of an octopus. When this cephalopod mollusc is given a piece of food, however, the fetching arm moves in a surprisingly vertebrate-like fashion – it is reconfigured into a stiffened structure consisting of three elements that articulate via “pseudo-joints”. This paper looks into the neural mechanisms that control these highly stereotypic movements.
Please note: words or phrases shown in bold in the PRINT VERSION of this text normally indicate hyperlinks on the webpage. These generally return a list of search results based on that keyword.