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: Gut fermentation in herbivorous animals
Ever tried eating a newspaper? Don't. Plant cell walls contain cellulose, which is notoriously difficult to digest. Considering that all vertebrates lack the enzymes to attack this polysaccharide, how do so many of them manage to survive on a plant diet?
Spotlight on Research:
“Discovery of a glowing millipede in California and the gradual evolution of bioluminescence in Diplopoda”
Marek, P. E. and Moore, W. (2015). PNAS, volume 112, number 20, 6419-6424.
New World millipede Xystocheir (Motyxia) bistipita is rediscovered and found to be bioluminescent and sister to the only other known bioluminescent millipede genus, Motyxia. Gradual evolution of brighter and brighter luminescence in the lineage is proposed, with Motyxia using light as an aposematic warning of its cyanide-based toxins.
Please note: words or phrases shown in bold in the PRINT VERSION of this text normally indicate hyperlinks on the webpage. These generally return a list of search results based on that keyword.