Evolution

Here’s the best online port of call for convergent evolution

Spread the love
Simon Conway Morris photo

Cambridge paleontologist Simon Conway Morris’s Map of Life is a one-stop shop for convergent evolution. Who knew this?:

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).

The plants feature on Trivia Time, but their convergence on a rather less than obvious strategy (“Love me, I stink.”) is not remarked on. Morris is the go-to guy for convergent evolution, largely overlooked but well documented:

We have identified hundreds of examples of convergence, so if you want to learn about convergence in sex (e.g. love-darts), eyes (e.g. camera-eyes in jellyfish), agriculture (e.g. in ants) or gliding (e.g. in lizards and mammals) then this is your best port of call.

Yes.

The name ‘Map of Life’ reflects the way that evolution has repeatedly arrived at, or converged upon, the same adaptive solutions from more or less unrelated starting points, as though evolutionary trajectories were following a metaphorical ‘map’ to the same destination.

The shadow of Darwinism falls across that last clause beginning with “as though”: The team can’t quite bring themselves to write: “It looks as though evolutionary trajectories follow a metaphorical ‘map’ to the same destination.” Finally, someone’s got to. But don’t let that deter you; great site.

Here’s the linked Index.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

12 Replies to “Here’s the best online port of call for convergent evolution

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    There is nothing here that contradicts Darwinian orthodoxy. Move along.

  2. 2
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Well, there isn’t.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Things like camera-eyes don’t exist at a single point in the search space after all, they are literally sprinkled all over!

    And heck, you don’t even need a “Darwinian search algorithm” to find them, that’s how common they are

  4. 4
    Collin says:

    Ms. Liddle,

    Does this pose any kind of challenge to a nested heirarchy?

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    No, these do not qualify as characters.

  6. 6
    Collin says:

    Mung,

    Sorry, I don’t understand. What are “characters?” And why aren’t stinky perfumes a character?

  7. 7
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Collin:

    Does this pose any kind of challenge to a nested heirarchy?

    Well, possibly if it involved exactly the same mutation/allele.

    Then you’d have to estimate the likelihood if this being due to chance (obviously it can happen in closely related species).

    If not, then you’d have to think again about the phylogenies, and if that didn’t work, consider vectors for horizontal gene transfer.

    Clearly some problems have a limited number of solutions, though, hence flippers evolving from wings and well as from forelegs.

  8. 8
    Collin says:

    Ms. Liddle,

    I don’t see why it would have to involve the same mutation/allele. If a plant grew an eye, I don’t think that it would have to involve the same allele to pose a challenge to a nested heirarchy. Instead, I would consider the existence of a designer who was using one design in a different context.

  9. 9
    Collin says:

    Actually now I see where you were going. If it were the same exact allele in each plant, you could be more confident that that allele was intentionally targeted. But if it is a different allele, or set, then it looks more like a random mutation.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Yes, a character is anything that supports the Darwinian story.

    If it doesn’t, it becomes not a character.

  11. 11
    Robert Byers says:

    I agree that reading these webpages makes a important criticism of evolutionism.
    They HAVE to invoke convergent evolution because the likeness of form and function found in clearly unrelated biological entities must have a mechanism.
    Yet if evolution was true it should be that everything have its own specific details from its own trail of selection on mutation. Yet its not true.
    They must say mutations were squeezed in limited options to bring likeness of results.
    Creationists must insist WHY should this be or possibly be!
    Its so unlikely that like results in unrelated creatures EVOLE.
    Convergence in biology is fantastic if one reads the lists.

    I say convergence has been the quiet soft underbelly of the error of evolutionism.
    In fact convergence is so waved around as to make any certainly of relationship in fossils absurd.
    Including connecting man with apes on minor bits and pieces.

    it all makes better sense if instead there is just a single blueprint or computer program for biology withs laws not different then laws in physics.
    Darwin took out biology laws and put in great randomness for results.
    I say there is laws and need triggers these laws to be like results.
    nature teaches this and more investigation will find more sameness(convergence) till its dominent theme in the literature.

  12. 12
    ScottAndrews says:

    It all makes sense once we understand that the fitness landscape is full of stinky flower-shaped niches.

Leave a Reply