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  1. Bioluminescence
    Flying through the air on a summer's evening or sparkling in the ocean you may see magical flashes of light that signal some of nature's most enchanting creatures, those that are bioluminescent.

  2. Brood parasitism in cuckoos and other birds
    Obligate brood parasitism has evolved several times independently in birds. Apart from the cuckoos, it can be found in four other, only distantly related families.

  3. Agriculture in gall midges (Diptera)
    Flies, fungi, farming - sounds interesting? Read on if you want to learn about some rather different gall midges...

  4. Agriculture in beetles
    Think of weevils and most likely you'll think of spoiled food. But some weevils have turned to farming...

  5. 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...

  6. 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.

  7. Mimicry in fungi
    Insects pollinating flowers are a familiar sight. But what happens when the "flower" is actually a fungus? Still "pollination", but now it is fungal spores. Read on to learn more about the fungi that mimic flowers...

  8. Autumn leaf colouration
    Autumn colours are likely to be adaptive, as the 'default' is simply to remain green up to leaf fall, and both red and yellow leaf colouration have evolved independently on many occasions in gymnosperms and woody angiosperms.

  9. Tetrodotoxin
    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...

  10. Feeding in snakes and lizards
    The Turtle-headed sea snake feeds on small eggs and its feeding shows intriguing similarities to the way lizards forage, and herbivorous mammals graze and browse.

  11. Thanatosis (feigning death) in spiders and insects
    Beetles that "play possum"? A rather interesting example of convergence…

  12. Nuptial gifts in insects and spiders
    Male dance flies lure females with a dead insect. Not very romantic, you might think, but it certainly does the trick. Hence, such nuptial gifts have evolved in numerous other arthropods...

  13. Mammal-like placentation in skinks (and fish)
    “Only two types of vertebrates [have] evolved a reproductive pattern in which the chorioallantoic placenta provides the nutrients for fetal development. One is [...] the eutherian mammals […], and the other, a few lineages of the family Scincidae.” A.F. Flemming (2003) J Exp Zool 299A 33-47

  14. Viviparity in sauropterygians
    “The [fossilised] embryos are mostly in articulation and their distribution on each side indicates that female Keichousaurus hui had a pair of oviducts as in ichthyosaurs and many extant lizards.” Y. Cheng et al. (2003) Nature vol. 432, p.383

  15. Viviparity in mosasaurs
    An exceptionally preserved gravid female of the aigalosaur Carsosaurus contains at least at least four advanced embryos […] Their orientation suggests that they were born tail-first […] to reduce the possibility of drowning, an adaptation shared with other other highly aquatic amniotes” M.W. Caldwell & M.S.Y. Lee (2001) Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, vol. 268, p.2397

  16. Viviparity in ichthyosaurs
    “For me, the fossil is a transporting piece of evidence. It shows a female ichthyosaur that died late in pregnancy or perhaps while giving birth; the baby was entombed with its mother in the mud.” J. Rennie (2000) Scientific American, vol. 283(6), p.8

  17. Viviparity in lizards, snakes and mammals
    “In over 100 lineages of […] squamates, the oviduct has been recruited for viviparous gestation of the embryos, representing a degree of evolutionary convergence that is unparalleled in vertebrate history.” D. G. Blackburn (1998) Journal of Experimental Zoology, vol.282, p.560

  18. Infrared detection in insects
    Whilst infrared detection is probably best known in the snakes (where it has evolved twice), in point of fact in terms of convergence the insects provide by far the most striking example.

  19. Infrared detection in animals
    Some snakes are famous for 'seeing' infrared, but did you know that their heat-sensing abilities are rivalled by some beetles that can detect forest fires over considerable distances?

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. Tool use in birds
    What animals can drop stones into a water-filled tube to bring floating food within reach or bend wire to form a hook? Obviously chimpanzees? No, New Caledonian crows have evolved sophisticated tool use too.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. Ecology and cosmetics in vultures
    Vultures are not only charistmatic birds in the popular imagination, but are strikingly convergent, especially regarding feeding types...

  27. 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.