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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…
All plants are harmless? Well, not quite - at least not when you're an insect...
Agriculture in marine polychaete annelids
Some polychaetes attach pieces of algae to their dwelling tube. Just for decoration? No, but for a much more substantial (and convergent) benefit...
Vibrational communication in animals
What on earth could an elephant or treehoppers have in common with a seismometer?
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...
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...
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.
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.
Crabs: insights into convergence
You might think of crabs mainly as food, but this group is also highly instructive in terms of convergence…
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.
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!
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.
In the reptiles, different forms of skin membrane (called ‘patagia’) and in some extinct species, primitive feathers, have evolved convergently as adaptations for gliding.
Venom in mammals (and other synapsids)
Beware the venomous shrew! Yes, venomous. And convergent on some formidable lizards...
Infrared detection in snakes
Warm-blooded rodents watch out! There are heat-sensing predators on the prowl...
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.
Lipocalins for milk and pheromone transport
Lipocalins are proteins that bind to and transport small hydrophobic molecules such as lipids and steroids, and have been associated with biological processes such as milk production, pheromone transport and immune responses.
Lysozymes are common antibacterial enzymes that protect our eyes and nose from infection, but some animals have recruited them for a rather different purpose...
Woodpeckers and woodpecker-like birds and mammals
You think woodpeckers are unique? Consider the ovenbirds. Or even the curious aye-aye.
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.
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.