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: Infrared detection in animals
Some snakes are famous for 'seeing' infrared, but did you know that their heat-sensing abilities are rivalled by some beetles that can detect forest fires over considerable distances?
Spotlight on Research:
“Convergent sequence evolution between echolocating bats and dolphins”
Y. Liu, J.A. Cotton, B. Shen, X. Han, S.J. Rossiter & S. Zhang 2010, Current Biology, volume 20, pages R53-R54
Two groups of mammals, bats and toothed whales, have evolved sophisticated echolocation. Despite their many differences, certain anatomical convergences associated with this sensory capacity have been revealed, and this study provides evidence for molecular convergence. It shows multiple parallel amino acid changes in Prestin, a motor protein that seems to be responsible for high-frequency sensitivity and selectivity in the auditory system of mammals.
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