Welcome!

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.

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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.

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Showcase Topic: Gliding reptiles

In the reptiles, different forms of skin membrane (called ‘patagia’) and in some extinct species, primitive feathers, have evolved convergently as adaptations for gliding.

Spotlight on Research:

“Is it safe? Red-eyed treefrog embryos assessing predation risk use two features of rain vibrations to avoid false alarms”

nM.S. Caldwell, J.G. McDaniel & K.M. Warkentin 2010, Animal Behaviour, volume 79, pages 255-260.rn

Many animals communicate using low-frequency signals that propagate through a substrate. Such vibrational communication has evolved multiple times in diverse animal groups, including insects and spiders in particular but also elephants and some frogs. The tadpoles of red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas) escape from arboreal predators by making use of the vibrational cues generated upon their approach. This paper demonstrates that the tadpoles can even distinguish these predator-generated vibrations from rainstorm vibrations, thus avoiding costly false alarms.