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:
“A Jurassic avialan dinosaur from China resolves the early phylogenetic history of birds”
Godefroit, P. Et al,Nature 498, 359–362 (20 June 2013) doi:10.1038/nature12168
Godefroit et al. present Aurornis xui, a feathered dinosaur uncovered from Mid-Late Jurassic strata in the Liaoning Province of China. The authors’ phylogenetic analysis suggests that Aurornis appeared around 10 Ma earlier than the iconic Archaeopteryx. Aurornis (and its relative Anchiornis) are inferred to be more basal than Archaeopteryx in the Avialae, the group that leads to and includes the true birds. This casts doubt on Archaeopteryx’s position as the earliest bird and, in spite of the continuing debate on this subject, infers that powered flight using feathered forearms may have only evolved once.
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