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: Scanning eyes in molluscs and arthropods
Some sea snails have a linear retina. What a hopeless arrangement, to see the world through just a narrow slit! Not quite, because they have come up with a rather intriguing trick to extend their visual field - and it's a trick too good to use only once.
Spotlight on Research:
“Fungal farming in a snail”
B.R. Silliman & S.Y. Newell 2003, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, volume 100, pages 15643-15648.
Some terrestrial insects are well known for farming fungi, but this paper demonstrates that fungal agriculture has also evolved in the marine realm, in the North American marsh periwinkle (Littoraria irrorata). This snail feeds on an ascomycete fungus, which infects wounds inflicted by the snail on marsh grass leaves. Similar to human and other animal farmers, the snail even fertilises its crop.
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