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Monochromacy in mammals
Underwater environments are dominated by blue light. Ironically, whales and seals cannot see blue, because they have independently lost their short-wavelength opsins.
Malodorous flowering plants
Several groups of angiosperms have flower structures that produce foul odours to attract pollinating insects. This strategy is convergent, being found in species as distantly related as the 'Titan arum' Amorphophallus titanium (a monocot) and the 'Corpse flower' Rafflesia (a eudicot).
Foam nests in animals
Nests crop up everywhere, but one made out of foam? Might not sound like a great idea, but it is. And no surprise, it has evolved several times...
Dicyemids and chromidinids: enigmatic endoparasites
Dicyemids and chromidinids are tiny, worm-like or 'vermiform' creatures that typically live inside the kidneys ('renal organs') of cephalopod molluscs such as octopus, squid and cuttlefish.
Mushrooms and their relatives (Basidiomycota)
Mushrooms are not only tasty, but also provide numerous examples of evolutionary convergence...
Suction feeding in fish, amphibians, reptiles and aquatic mammals
Probably everyone is familiar with the walrus, but did you know that it generates a vacuum in its mouth to suck clams out of their shells? And this is just one example of suction feeding, the feeding mode typically used by bony fish…
Not many foods served in a restaurant can kill you, but pufferfish is the exception. Tetrodotoxin, the toxin responsible for such culinary fatalities, reveals a fascinating story of convergent evolution...
Beak structures in reptiles and birds
Among reptile taxa with beak structures, we find several cases of convergent evolution, for example between turtles, Uromastyx lizards, a number of herbivorous dinosaurs and the tuatara (Sphenodon) of New Zealand.
Ascomycete fungi: insights into convergence
Today ascomycetes are an extremely important group of fungi, and they take their name from the reproductive structures known as ascii.
Sand-dwelling (psammophilous) lizard ecomorphs
Desert sand dunes represent an extreme environmental setting in which selective forces have apparently generated dune ‘ecomorphs’ in six lizard families. – Lamb et al. (2003) Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 73, p. 253
Trichromatic vision in mammals
Who has not enjoyed the splash of colour in a market: gorgeous red peppers, the green of basil and what on earth are these purple vegetables over there? All thanks to trichromatic vision, another story of convergence.
Loss of olfactory capacity in primates and cetaceans
It is widely thought that reduced olfactory capacity in apes is linked to the development of acute vision, especially trichromacy.
Compound eyes in arthropods
It is clear that amongst the arthropods as a whole the compound eye has evolved at least twice, and possibly even more times.
Mussel attachment and the Pinna byssus
It is clear that the Pinna byssus has unusual properties in comparison to its equivalent in the bivalve mussel, and is conspicuously different in terms of crystallinity.
Intelligence and cognition in birds
House sparrows are known to gain access to shopping malls by flying in front of sensors that operate sliding doors, whilst herons have been shown to be adept fishers using baits and lures.
Baculum (penile bone) in mammals
Ouch!! Gentlemen, fancy a bone in your penis? Seems a bit risky, given it could fracture during copulation. Even our near ancestors had such a bone. It has probably evolved several times, but what is its function?
Dolphin communication, cognition and sociality
Dolphins are one of the most intriguing sources of evolutionary convergence, having cognitive abilities that seem to find many parallels in the great apes, and rather remarkably even extend to tool use.
Hummingbirds and hummingbirdoid moths
Like other birds hummingbirds are warm-blooded, but so independently are the hawk-moths, which like a number of insects have evolved thermoregulation.
Love darts in slugs, snails and annelid worms
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.