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Topics about "fin" include:

  1. 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.

Topics containing the search term "fin" are:

  1. Why emit light? The many functions of bioluminescence
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  2. Light producing chemicals: how to make bioluminescence
    The most remarkable luciferin in terms of its distribution is known as coelenterazine. This nitrogen-ring based molecule is found in nine separate groups, ranging from radiolarians to fish.

  3. 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.

  4. Snail eating: an asymmetric diet
    Snails may not be everyone's first choice on the menu but several distinct colubrid snakes have evolved expert techniques for gorging on these nutritious gastropods.

  5. Vibrational communication in mammals
    Kangaroo rats drum their foot on the ground upon encountering a snake. Why? Read on for this and many other fascinating examples of vibrational communication in mammals…

  6. Vibrational communication in insects and spiders
    Some spiders have evolved a most remarkable method of capturing other spiders – they imitate the vibrations of insects caught in their victim’s web. And this is only one of numerous intriguing examples of vibrational communication in arthropods…

  7. Echolocation in bats
    How can bats navigate in total darkness amongst trees and branches, but still locate a tiny, fluttering insect with extraordinary acuity? All made possible through echolocation, an astonishing sensory mechanism…

  8. Foregut fermentation in mammals
    Foregut fermentation is best known from the ruminants, such as cattle, deer and giraffes, that regurgitate and rechew their food to aid microbial digestion. However, they are not the only mammals to have evolved this digestive strategy...

  9. Foregut fermentation in birds
    A foregut-fermenting bird was long considered a paradox. But what about the hoatzin, a curious South American bird known locally as the "stinking pheasant" thanks to its smell of fresh cow manure?

  10. 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.

  11. Agriculture in wood wasps
    The most famous hymenopteran farmers are, without doubt, the attine ants. Rightly so, but they are not the only ones...

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

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

  14. Cichlids
    Cichlids are one of the cause celebré of evolution, and rightly so because these freshwater fish show a remarkable diversity and exemplify many key aspects of adaptive radiation. But why so successful? The answer lies in the versatility of the jaws (and yes, they are convergent).

  15. Pressure sensitivity and the tactile sense (excluding the lateral line)
    The star-nosed mole is famous for, well, its nose, but do you have any idea what these peculiar 'tentacles' are for? The answer is rather touching and, of course, convergent...

  16. Secondary xylem (wood) in vascular plants
    Evolution of wood in plants as distantly related as lignophytes, Calamites and Lepidodendron is an elegant example of convergent evolution. Plants responded in a similar way to a need for better structural support as they diversified and increased in size.

  17. Torus-margo pits in vascular plant xylem
    Torus-margo pits probably evolved once in the gymnosperms, after the split of more advanced gymnosperms from the cycads. Surprisingly, eight genera from five families of angiosperms, which are characterised by highly effective xylem vessels, have also evolved torus-margo structures.

  18. 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.

  19. 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).

  20. 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...

  21. Lateral line system in fish and other animals
    Some cavefish are completely blind, so how do they manage to navigate through their environment with astonishing ease?

  22. Mitochondrial genome convergences
    Most likely, mitochondria have a single evolutionary origin, but that doesn't mean they are immune to convergence...

  23. Pufferfish (and inflation)
    Pufferfish are some of the most extraordinary fish to have evolved, especially because of their capacity to swallow water and inflate themselves to something like a football. Not only that but some representatives can be deadly to the unwary diner...

  24. Echolocation in birds: oilbirds and swiftlets
    The best known example of echolocating birds are the South American oilbirds (Steatornis caripensis), so called because their flesh yields abundant oil.

  25. 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.

  26. Evolution of birds from feathered reptiles
    Birds, in the sense of flying descendants of feathered reptiles (a more expansive group than the "true" birds in today's skies), evolved several times from within the theropods.

  27. Myelinated nerves in vertebrates, annelids and crustaceans
    Myelinated nerves are an excellent biological solution and needless to say have evolved independently in several groups other than vertebrates. In each case myelination is associated with very rapid nervous conduction and often escape reactions.

  28. Explosive discharge in fungi and plants
    The very rapid release of reproductive bodies is perhaps most famous in the fungi, where several methods of flinging spores at high velocity have evolved independently.

  29. Moray eels
    Eels masquerading as snakes sounds interesting, and that is before they go hunting with their friends the groupers...  

  30. 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...

  31. Teeth in aquatic reptiles
    Aquatic reptiles tend to display one of three dentition types, well adapted to either seize and slice large vertebrate prey, pierce and gouge slippery fish, or entrap small prey such as crustaceans.

  32. Dental batteries in ceratopsians, hadrosaurs and elephants
    The dental batteries or 'pavements' of ceratopsians and hadrosaurs evolved independently, and yet the dentition of several more distantly related animals also converges on their highly adapted tooth form.

  33. Teiid lizard dentition: convergence with other reptiles, mammals and fish
    Teiids are skink-like lizards whose members show a stunning diversity of tooth types, providing rich evidence of convergence within the teiids themselves, in distantly related reptile groups and even in certain mammals and fish.

  34. Complex tooth occlusion in notosuchid crocodiles and tritylodonts (proto-mammals)
    Two unusual Early Cretaceous crocodiles provide a shining example of convergence, as their dentition parallels that observed in a group of advanced proto-mammals called tritylodonts.

  35. Reptile dentition: convergence on complex occlusion
    Some reptiles have transverse chisel-like teeth for slicing, and others have teeth bearing projections ('cusps') that interlock and slice or grind tough food. In each case evolutionary parallels are clear both within and outside the reptiles.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. Desert plants with succulent stems
    Fleshy, succulent stems have evolved in several distantly related desert plant families, including cacti, certain species of Euphorbia and two genera of the family Asclepiadaceae, Hoodia and Stapelia.

  39. Desert plants with succulent leaves
    Perhaps the most striking case of convergence among leaf succulents occurs between Agave and its relatives Yucca and Hesperaloe in the Americas and Aloe and its relatives (e.g. Haworthia and Gasteria) in Africa.

  40. Succulent desert plants
    Classic examples of convergence in desert plants include the so-called 'stem succulent' cacti in the Americas and cactus-like Euphorbia species in Africa and South Asia, and also the striking similarity between 'leaf succulent' Agave and Yucca of the Americas and Aloe and its close relatives in Africa.

  41. 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.

  42. Crabs: insights into convergence
    You might think of crabs mainly as food, but this group is also highly instructive in terms of convergence…

  43. 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.

  44. Bats: Insights into convergence
    Bats show a fascinating array of convergences, from echolocation to flight to nectar feeding. Vampire bats can even detect infrared radiation, while others might be able to see into the ultraviolet end of the spectrum.

  45. Echolocation in toothed whales and ground-dwelling mammals
    Given the extraordinary powers of echolocation in bats, it is not surprising that this group has received the most attention. However, they are not the only mammals to have evolved echolocation. Who invented sonar millions of years before the Navy?

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

  47. Camera eyes in cubozoan jellyfish
    On each of the four club-like extensions (rhopalia) near the base of the cubozoan jellyfish bell there are two camera-eyes, one pointing upwards and the other downwards.

  48. Pharyngeal jaws in teleost fish
    One of the great evolutionary breakthroughs in the teleost fish was the conversion of some of the elements that supported the gill bars into a second set of pharyngeal teeth that complemented the oral teeth. See how a fish becomes a snake!

  49. Durophagy (hard prey-eating) in fish
    Plenty of animals have an extraordinary capacity to crush hard prey and this has evolved independently many times in the vertebrates. If you suspect it is a durophage, watch your fingers!

  50. Magnetotactic bacteria
    Magnetotactic bacteria provide some excellent examples of convergent evolution.  In particular the ability to synthesize iron compounds has evolved at least twice, respectively employing iron oxide (magnetite) and iron sulphide.

  51. Ink production in cephalopods and gastropods
    A series of striking convergences can be found in the sea-hares (Aplysia), a group of gastropods and only remotely related to the cephalopods.  Not only do they emit ink clouds (the colour is derived from ingested red algae), but they also employ chemical cues that assist in defense.

  52. 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.

  53. Gliding in feathered reptiles
    A number of reptile species have been discovered in the Mesozoic fossil record, bearing feathers that were apparently used to support gliding locomotion, rather than true, powered flight as we see in present day birds.

  54. Gliding in Draco lizards and tree snakes
    “The agamid lizard genus Draco (consisting of the so-called ‘flying dragons’) exhibits an array of morphological traits associated with gliding.” – A.P. Russell & L.D. Dijkstra (2001) Journal of the Zoological Society of London, vol. 253, page 457

  55. Gliding mammals
    Gliding mammals rely primarily on extensive skin membranes or ‘patagia’ that stretch between fore- and hind-limbs, creating a wing-like structure.

  56. Gliding reptiles
    In the reptiles, different forms of skin membrane (called ‘patagia’) and in some extinct species, primitive feathers, have evolved convergently as adaptations for gliding.

  57. 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

  58. Parthenogenesis in Australian lizards and insects
    “Evidence on the origin and spread of the two best-studied cases of parthenogenesis from the Australian arid zone, the grasshopper Warramaba virgo and the gecko Heteronotia binoei, suggests that they evolved in parallel.” – Kearney et al. (2006) Molecular Ecology vol. 15, p.1743

  59. Anolis lizard ecomorphs
    “A classic example of convergent evolution is the set of Anolis lizard ecomorphs of the Greater Antilles.” – Langerhans, Knouft & Losos (2006) Evolution, vol. 6, p.362

  60. 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

  61. 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

  62. 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

  63. 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

  64. 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

  65. 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.

  66. Venom in mammals (and other synapsids)
    Beware the venomous shrew! Yes, venomous. And convergent on some formidable lizards...

  67. 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?

  68. Taste in arthropods and mammals
    The ability to taste is obviously an essential component in the life of any animal, both to assess the potential quality of food, its nutrient capacities and also to detect toxins or other dangers.

  69. Corneal nipple arrays in insect eyes
    Anti-reflection coating? Not only on mobile phone displays, but also on insect eyes...

  70. Vision in echinoderms
    Among brittlestars and sea urchins we find visual systems that in some ways rival the arthropods in the form of compound eye-like structures.

  71. 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.

  72. Camera eyes in alciopid annelids
    There is a striking example in the group known as the alciopids, which are pelagic polychaetes. The similarity of their camera eye to the vertebrate eye has attracted considerable comment.

  73. Camera eyes in gastropod molluscs
    The fast-moving cephalopod molluscs are famous for their camera eyes, but why on earth have gastropod snails, which are not exactly known for their speed, evolved this superb visual organ at least four times?

  74. Telephoto eyes in animals
    Pursued by the paparazzi? Watch out for those animals equipped with telephoto lenses...

  75. Camera-like eyes in arthropods
    Arthropods are famous for their compound eyes, but some groups have had a fair crack at evolving the optically superior camera eye…

  76. Innate and adaptive immune systems
    A vile cough, soaring temperature? When attacked by nasty microbes, our immune system comes in handy. Surprisingly (or not), plants have come up with a very similar solution to dealing with pathogens, but independently...    

  77. Adhesive pads: from geckos to spiders
    In terms of adhesive pads we find they have a remarkably wide distribution evolving in at least four distinct groups, including members of the reptiles, amphibians, arthropods and mammals, with tentative parallels in sea urchins.

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

  81. Enzymes: convergence on active sites and reaction types
    Enzymes make the world go round, each an evolutionary marvel - and convergent.

  82. 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.

  83. Birds: insights into convergence
    Intriguing ecological and morphological parallels can be found among the Neoaves. Many of these forms were initially believed to be each other's closest relatives, but are now widely recognised as classic examples of convergence. Think how similar swifts and swallows are, but they are only distantly related.

  84. Carbonic anhydrase in vertebrates, plants, algae and bacteria
    Carbonic anhydrase is extremely convergent and may have evolved as many as six times. The most familiar variants are α, β and γ carbonic anhydrases.

  85. 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?

  86. 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.

  87. Sabre-toothed cats and marsupials
    Marsupials with giant fangs? Yes, not all of the extinct sabre-toothed cats were actually cats…

  88. 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.

  89. Cavitation: bubble formation in plants, reptiles and shrimps
    The formation of bubbles in a fluid is known as cavitation. Typically this occurs at low pressures, and is perhaps best known in the xylem of plants where embolisms can be destructive to the surrounding tissues.

  90. 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.

  91. Chloroplast and mitochondrial plastid origins
    Not only are there intriguing parallels in the story of gene loss in chloroplasts and mitochondria, but there is also the re-invention of bacterial pathways, such as oxidation of quinols.

  92. Zinc in teeth
    On land, we find the employment of zinc to reinforce feeding structures in the fangs of spiders, and also in a variety of insect groups.

  93. 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.

  94. Woodpeckers and woodpecker-like birds and mammals
    You think woodpeckers are unique? Consider the ovenbirds. Or even the curious aye-aye.

  95. 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.

  96. Swimming and thermoregulation in sharks and tuna
    Thunniform swimming depends on a large, lunate tail that is joined to the rest of the body via a narrow peduncle. Whilst the tail flicks backwards and forwards, so propelling the animal, the rest of the body hardly moves sideways.

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

  98. 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.

  99. Elastic proteins
    What do rubber bands and fleas have in common?

  100. Crystallins: eye lens proteins
    Whereas typically technology demands furnaces, so that the glass for a lens is produced at hundreds of degrees Celsius and then requires most careful grinding, so nature calls upon proteins known as crystallins.

  101. Transparent tissues: eyes, bodies and reflective surfaces
    Read on if you want to know about the numerous animal equivalents to the invisible man...

  102. Penis form in mammals, turtles, birds and octopus
    The specific case of a penis with a hydrostatic structure, as well as an array of collagen fibres that allows both expansion and guards against aneurysms, has evolved in a strikingly convergent fashion in mammals and turtles.

  103. Simple tool use in owls and cephalopods
    Burrowing owls place pieces of collected dung. These attract insects such as beetles that are then eaten by the owls.

  104. Electroreception in fish, amphibians and monotremes
    From an evolutionary point of view, electroreception is particularly intriguing as a sense modality that has been repeatedly lost and reinvented again.

  105. Burrowing: from worms to vertebrates
    Quite a few adaptations are useful for burrowing into the soil. So it is not exactly surprising that they have evolved several times...

  106. Camera eyes of cephalopods
    The remarkable similarity between the camera eyes of cephalopods and vertebrates is one of the best-known examples of evolutionary convergence.

  107. Octopus and other cephalopods: convergence with vertebrates
    What could be more different from us than the alien-like octopus? Hold on. Look it in the eye and think again.

  108. Camera eyes in vertebrates, cephalopods and other animals
    Camera eyes are superb optical devices, so it is not surprising that they have evolved several times. But why, of all animals, in the brainless jellyfish? Or for that matter in a slow-moving snail?