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: Brood parasitism in cuckoos and other birds
Obligate brood parasitism has evolved several times independently in birds. Apart from the cuckoos, it can be found in four other, only distantly related families.
Spotlight on Research:
“The function of the cosmetic coloration of bearded vultures: when art imitates life”
J. J. NEGRO*, A. MARGALIDA†, F. HIRALDO* & R. HEREDIA, Animal Behaviour 1999, vol 58, F14-F17
Bearded vultures apply reddish colour to their pale underbellies, head and neck by rubbing themselves in iron oxide stained water and mud. Whether the redness serves as a dominance signal, for sexual selection or originates from its anti-bacterial properties is debated, but these birds certainlyl impress with their unique eye for cosmetics!
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