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: Xylem vessels in vascular plants
Vessels are characteristic of the angiosperms, and yet they have evolved independently in several other groups, including the lycophyte Selaginella, horse-tail Equisetum and the enigmatic Gnetales.
Spotlight on Research:
“Keeping an ‘ear’ to the ground: Seismic communication in elephants”
C.E. O’Connell-Rodwell 2007, Physiology, volume 22, pages 287-294.
Vibrational signalling has evolved several times independently in mammals, where it is an important and diverse, but not too well studied, mode of communication. Unsurprisingly, it plays a major role in the life of subterranean mammals that are adapted to a life underground, but there is growing evidence for the highly social elephants also relying on seismic signals for long-distance communication with conspecifics. This paper reviews potential mechanisms of signal generation and detection in this group.
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