Archive for November 6th, 2013

November 6, 2013

Convergent Evolution

Convergent evolution describes the independent development of similar features in species of different lineages. Two species from unrelated lines can develop the same traits if they live in similar habitats, and have to develop solutions to the same kind of problems. Similar structures among species are either ‘homologous’ (derived from a common ancestors), or, as in the case of convergent evolution, ‘analogous’ (independent adaptations to similar conditions).

The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Flying insects, birds, and bats have all evolved the capacity of flight independently. They have ‘converged’ on this useful trait. All wings have functional similarities: they are thin and strong, with a wide surface area, and can be mechanically moved in a regular way so as to create lift. However, in each case the wings evolved separately, so their form reflects certain physical necessities.

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