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: Secondary xylem (wood) in vascular plants
Evolution of wood in plants as distantly related as lignophytes, Calamites and Lepidodendron is an elegant example of convergent evolution. Plants responded in a similar way to a need for better structural support as they diversified and increased in size.
Spotlight on Research:
“Parallel and convergent evolution of the dim-light vision gene RH1 in bats (order: Chiroptera)”
Y-Y. Shen, J. Liu, D.M. Irwin, Y-P. Zhang 2010, Public Library of Science ONE, volume 5, e8838
At least for some bats, vision is relatively important, but all of them are active in low-light conditions. Low-light vision is mediated by the extremely sensitive visual pigment rhodopsin. The analysis of the rhodopsin gene RH1 in a number of echolocating and non-echolocating bats presented in this paper provides evidence for convergent evolution, with multiple parallel amino acid changes in the two groups.
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