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Reptile had bird-like head 100 million years before birds

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From Jake Buehler at Gizmodo:

Imagine an animal with the body of a chameleon, the feet and claws of an anteater, the humped back of a camel, and a tail that is both flattened like a beaver’s, but also like that of a scorpion. If you’re thinking this sounds like someone just threw your local zoo into a blender—or that it’s not far off from mythical creatures like the chimera or manticore—this would be understandable. But this bonkers description fits a real, long-extinct group of tree-dwelling reptiles that lived more than 200 million years ago. Now, a new species of these freaky little critters has been identified, and its fossilized remains pile onto the anatomical strangeness, showing that this ancient reptile evolved a toothless, remarkably bird-like head in a world 100 million years before birds with heads like this even existed.

These cases consist of “convergent evolution,” a phenomenon where evolution results in similar solutions to similar problems independently in entirely different organisms, and the new, bird-brained drepanosaur certainly fits right in. More.

Convergent evolution suggests goal-directed evolution (a heresy) rather than random evolution.

See also: Archaea vs. bacteria: Convergent evolution of molecular propeller

Convergent evolution: Speciation in butterflies an unusually tough mess


Evolution appears to converge on goals—but in Darwinian terms, is that possible?


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