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: Scanning eyes in molluscs and arthropods
Some sea snails have a linear retina. What a hopeless arrangement, to see the world through just a narrow slit! Not quite, because they have come up with a rather intriguing trick to extend their visual field - and it's a trick too good to use only once.
Spotlight on Research:
“Directed aerial descent in canopy ants”
P. Yanoviak, R. Dudley & M. Kaspari 2005, Nature, volume 433, pages 624-626
Many non-flying vertebrates that live in trees use gliding or parachuting to move from tree to tree. Gliding allows animals such as ‘flying’ squirrels, frogs and Draco lizards to escape predators or search for food effectively. This paper demonstrates a similar ability to control descent through the air in tree-dwelling ants of the species Cephalotes atratus. These neo-tropical ants use visual cues and fall abdomen first, the shape of their bodies being aerodynamically adapted for a directionally controlled descent.
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