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: Pharyngeal jaws in teleost fish
One of the great evolutionary breakthroughs in the teleost fish was the conversion of some of the elements that supported the gill bars into a second set of pharyngeal teeth that complemented the oral teeth. See how a fish becomes a snake!
Spotlight on Research:
“Tactile hairs on the postcranial body in Florida manatees: A mammalian lateral line?”
R.L. Reep, C.D. Marshall & M.L. Stoll 2002, Brain, Behavior and Evolution, volume 59, pages 141-154.
An important sensory system of fish is the lateral line, which consists of rows of mechanosensory cells that perceive pressure changes transmitted through water. Upon terrestrialisation, this sense was lost, but analogues might have evolved in some secondarily aquatic mammals. This study examines tactile hairs on the body of manatees, which inhabit turbid waters and have poor visual capacities and might thus benefit from a lateral line equivalent.
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