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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.
“Broken jaw” – mandibular and maxillary jaw joints
At first sight having a jaw with a joint seems a contradiction in terms, but such exist and not only are obviously functional, but needless to say convergent.
Limblessness in lizards
What's that slithering towards you? A snake? Look more closely, look convergently...
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.
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
Gliding mammals rely primarily on extensive skin membranes or ‘patagia’ that stretch between fore- and hind-limbs, creating a wing-like structure.
In the reptiles, different forms of skin membrane (called ‘patagia’) and in some extinct species, primitive feathers, have evolved convergently as adaptations for gliding.
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
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
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.
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.
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…
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...