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Agriculture in wood wasps
The most famous hymenopteran farmers are, without doubt, the attine ants. Rightly so, but they are not the only ones...
Venom and venom fangs in snakes, lizards and synapsids
Although the evolution of snake fangs itself provides us with a window on convergence, the presence of fang-like teeth in lizards, therapsids and mammals provides an even broader and more remarkable perspective.
Thanatosis (feigning death) in spiders and insects
Beetles that "play possum"? A rather interesting example of convergence…
Gliding lizards, frogs and ants
Tree-dwelling (‘arboreal’) ants capable of controlled gliding do so when dislodged or threatened by predation. Gliding species include members of three disparate families: Myrmicinae, Pseudomyrmecinae and Formicinae.
Olfaction: insights into convergence
Although olfaction is very widespread, there is abundant evidence for repeated convergence of key features, strongly suggesting that there really is an optimal solution to detecting smells.
Venom in mammals (and other synapsids)
Beware the venomous shrew! Yes, venomous. And convergent on some formidable lizards...
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.
Silk production and use in arthropods
Remarkably, fossil silk is known, especially from amber of Cretaceous age. Material includes both silk with trapped insects, possibly from an orb-web, and strands with the characteristic viscid droplets that are the key in trapping prey.
Biological uses of silk: from webs to ballooning
What material is so versatile that it can be used for capturing prey, building nests, communication and even cleaning? The answer: that most remarkable of biomaterials - silk.
Sap feeding and honey-dew production in insects
Interestingly, it has now been shown that the saliva of the aphids has an analogue to the anti-coagulant properties of blood suckers, subverting the wound repair mechanism of the plant.
Sleep in animals
Suffering from insomnia? Fruit flies do as well...
Agriculture: from ants to dugongs
Human farmers tending their fields are a familiar sight. But don't forget about those fungus-farming termites or the fish with a garden of algae…
Beetles: insights into convergence
The beetles are probably the most diverse animal group on earth, so it is not at all surprising that they provide many fascinating insights into convergence.
Agriculture in ants: leaf-cutters (attines) and non-attines
In some species, special squads leave the nest early each day, ascend the tree-trunks and then spend hours cutting out pieces of leaf that are dropped to other units on the ground.
Ants: insights into convergence
Trap-jaws, silk and agriculture – just a few examples of convergence in the arguably most successful group of insects, the ants…
Crustaceans: insights into convergence
Whilst predominantly marine, quite a number of crustaceans have invaded freshwater habitats and even more interestingly a few demonstrate terrestrialization, effectively freeing themselves from their aquatic ancestry.
Haemocyanin in arthropods and molluscs
The degree of similarity between the active sites in arthropod and molluscan haemocyanin has been called “remarkable” and “startling”, but actually suggests that wherever in the universe life employs copper for aerobic respiration it will call upon haemocyanin.