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 mammals

Gliding mammals rely primarily on extensive skin membranes or ‘patagia’ that stretch between fore- and hind-limbs, creating a wing-like structure.

Spotlight on Research:

“Was the Oligo-Miocene Australian metatherian Yalkaparidon a ‘mammalian woodpecker’?”

R.D. Beck 2009, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, volume 97, pages 1-17.

Woodpeckers, with their highly specialised adaptations for hammering into wood, might seem unique at first glance, but several other birds and even some mammals have converged on a woodpecker-like habit. While the most famous ‘mammalian woodpecker’ is probably the aye-aye, this paper describes an extinct potential woodpecker analogue, the marsupial Yalkparidon from the Oligo-Miocene of Australia.