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: Vibrational communication in insects and spiders
Some spiders have evolved a most remarkable method of capturing other spiders – they imitate the vibrations of insects caught in their victim’s web. And this is only one of numerous intriguing examples of vibrational communication in arthropods…
Spotlight on Research:
“Foregut fermentation in the hoatzin, a Neotropical leaf-eating bird”
A. Grajal, S.D. Strahl, R. Parra, M.G. Dominguez & A. Neher 1989, Science, volume 245, pages 1236-1238.
Leaves are notoriously difficult to break down, so most herbivores have evolved specialised guts with fermentation chambers. Foregut fermentation is best known from ruminant mammals, but constitutes in fact a prime example of evolutionary convergence. This paper describes foregut fermentation in a bird, the South American hoatzin.
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