Convergent Evolution in Mammals - Influence of Life History and Environment

Feb 21, 2013 - 11:09 - Tanya Dewey

Distantly related organisms often develop similar adaptations when living in equivalent environments and/or possessing a comparable style of life. This trend is termed convergent evolution is widespread across mammals and other organisms and it’s very interesting to investigate to see how different organisms go about solving similar biological problems. Characters that evolved via convergent (or parallel) evolution are analogous and do not share a common ancestry. Recognizing instances of convergent evolution (and therefore recognizing analogous characters) is especially important when trying to determine relationships among organisms.

The purpose of this activity is to find examples of convergent evolution between marsupial and placental mammals (or distantly related mammals within Metatheria or Eutheria). This activity is set up as a way to explore the Quaardvark database of the Animal Diversity Web. Submitted by Dr. Jessica Light, Texas A & M University and used in Mammalogy.