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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…
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…
Monochromacy in mammals
Underwater environments are dominated by blue light. Ironically, whales and seals cannot see blue, because they have independently lost their short-wavelength opsins.
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...
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.
Eels masquerading as snakes sounds interesting, and that is before they go hunting with their friends the groupers...
Crabs: insights into convergence
You might think of crabs mainly as food, but this group is also highly instructive in terms of convergence…
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.
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.
Trichromatic vision in mammals
Who has not enjoyed the splash of colour in a market: gorgeous red peppers, the green of basil and what on earth are these purple vegetables over there? All thanks to trichromatic vision, another story of convergence.
Venom in mammals (and other synapsids)
Beware the venomous shrew! Yes, venomous. And convergent on some formidable lizards...
Corneal nipple arrays in insect eyes
Anti-reflection coating? Not only on mobile phone displays, but also on insect eyes...
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.
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…
Spitting in spiders and velvet worms
Scytodid spiders forcibly eject a mixture of saliva, silk and venom in a glutinous mass over a distance of c. 1cm to entrap 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.
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.
Electric fish: insights into convergence
Ever seen an electric eel in an aquarium? Don’t dare putting your hand in the tank...
Woodpeckers and woodpecker-like birds and mammals
You think woodpeckers are unique? Consider the ovenbirds. Or even the curious aye-aye.
Transparent tissues: eyes, bodies and reflective surfaces
Read on if you want to know about the numerous animal equivalents to the invisible man...