This website aims to tell you nearly everything you need (and may ever want) to know about convergent evolution. It allows y ou 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.

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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.

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“The agamid lizard genus Draco (consisting of the so-called ‘flying dragons’) exhibits an array of morphological traits associated with gliding.” – A.P. Russell & L.D. Dijkstra (2001) Journal of the Zoological Society of London, vol. 253, page 457

Spotlight on Research:

“Phylogenetic analysis reveals a scattered distribution of autumn colours”

M. Archetti 2009, Annals of Botany volume 103, pages 703-713

Autumn leaves do not turn red and gold due to simple leaf degradation but rather colourful pigments are actively produced. An analysis of 2368 tree species shows that yellow leaves evolved independently at least 25 times and red at least 28 times during evolution. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the clear adaptive value of autumn leaf colouration (e.g. co-evolution with aphids, protection of nutrients from radiation) but the explanations are yet to be tested fully.