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, 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.

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, in the format: Map of Life – “Topic title”, Topic web page address, Month/Year downloaded

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The curious habit of stabbing their partners with sharp calcareous (or chitinous) darts during courtship and prior to actual copulation has understandably attracted considerable attention.

Spotlight on Research:

“Molecular basis of infrared detection by snakes”

E.O. Gracheva, N.T. Ingolia, Y.M. Kelly, J.F. Cordero-Morales, G. Hollopeter, A.T. Chesler, E.E. Sánchez, J.C. Perez, J.S. Weissman & D. Julius 2010, Nature, volume 464, pages 1006-1012.

Several animals have independently evolved systems of infrared detection, most famously the snakes. Here, thermosensitive pits on the head have arisen at least twice, once in the pit vipers and probably once in the more ancient boas and pythons. This article investigates the molecular mechanism of this remarkable sensory system.