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Convergent Evolution

Last Updated : 12 Jan, 2024
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Evolution is a developing process. It is a continuous & immortal process by which new species take place in nature. Evolution is a process where from an existing creature a new completely different creature evolved. In every living thing, evolution can be observed. Though evolution takes millions of times to create a new species, but still in the present time also, evolution is the key force that maintains nature. Scientists believe that there are many types of evolution present. Among them, Divergent Evolution is the major one. But others also are responsible for creating new species. Among others, Convergent Evolution is next to the Divergent Evolution.

Types of Evolution

There are four types of the evolutionary process is present. They are:

  1. Divergent Evolution
  2. Convergent Evolution
  3. Parallel Evolution
  4. Co-Evolution

Difference From Other Evolutionary Processes

Convergent Vs Divergent Evolution

In Divergent Evolution from a common ancestor two or more species were developed. Two different species developed from the same ancestors. But they are Anatomically the same.

But in the convergent evolution from two or more ancestors some different species developed. But they share a common trait between them. Here, in the case of convergent evolution, some new species developed from their independent ancestors.

Convergent Vs Parallel Evolution

Parallel Evolution is the process where from the same ancestor same species developed in a different environmental system. The species are closely related to each other & their ancestors were also the same.

But in Convergent Evolution two different species developed from two different ancestors. But those ancestors were in the same environmental system which triggers these changes.

Convergent Vs Co-Evolution

Co-Evolution is the process where two or more species interact with each other & influence their evolutionary process.

But in the case of Convergent Evolution, the ancestor species just live in the same environment. They don’t interfere with any evolutionary process. They evolved independently of each other.

What Is Convergent Evolution

Convergent Evolution


Convergent Evolution is the process where two different species develop the same traits in between themselves & create new species. The ancestor species were not closely related to each other. They have evolved independently. But still, they have some common traits among them. Convergent Evolution is different from Divergent Evolution. In Divergent Evolution, two or more species developed from a common ancestor. But for Convergent Evolution, species developed from two different ancestors but they have common traits.

Different ancestor species will develop different evolved species. The evolved species will have similar organs or traits. But they will be different in view of Anatomy & Embryological Origin. But they will serve the same function. This evolution process is known as Convergent Evolution. Developing such types of traits is known as the Analogous Structure.

Convergent Evolution at Molecular Level

Evolution might be a process that can be viewed by external developments. But behind these developments, there are certain micro-level developments happening inside the body of the creature. Due to the natural selection process, creatures try to fulfill their needs by developing some traits. But these traits are not developed overnight. They try to develop the traits & sometimes in some generations these traits may appear. This type of appearance can only be possible by molecular changes.

Molecules are like the building blocks of our bodies. Among the molecules, the protein is the most important. Species trying to get some new traits first make some tiny changes to their genomic structure. These changes are inherited by the next generation. Again, those generations try to make some new changes in their genomic structure. In this way, when the genomic structure makes significant changes then new traits arrived. Scientists believe that the Analogous Structures derived by the Convergent Evolution are the result of molecular change in that creature’s body. And these molecular changes are further derived for the next generation. The next generation trying to make some new modifications to it to survive in nature. This is the continuous molecular level development.

Cause of Convergent Evolution

Though there is only one reason which triggers the Convergent Evolution. This is known as Exposure to the common habitat. Due to any reason, some species come to live in the same environment. These reasons may be predator presence, lack of food resources, etc. But the main thing is that they all come to live in the same environment. This environment stimulates them to acquire desired traits to survive in nature. In this way, different species have to develop some type of traits to live in that environment. This is the reason why in different species same traits are available.

What Is Analogous Structure?

Analogous Structure is the opposite of Homologous Structure. Homologous Structure is associated with Divergent Evolution. But Analogous Structure is associated with Convergent Evolution. If two structures of two different species are engaged for functioning in the same type of work, then those structures are known as Analogous Structures. Also, these structures never derived from the same ancestor of two different species. These structures need to be developed in each of the species by the natural selection process. Nature will force the species to develop such structures in their body. This type of same structure can develop in some species due to the same habitat.

Analogous Structures have many examples, like the wings of the bird & the butterfly. Both the wings help them to fly in the sky. But their Anatomical Structures are different. The same goes for the other animal also. Like the tail of a fish & tail of tadpoles serves the same function. It helps to swim in the water. But their Anatomical Structure is different. These structures are known as Analogous Structures.

What Is Homoplasy?

Homoplasy is the process by which the Analogous Structures are developed in different species. It is a continuous process. It is triggered by the need of the creature to fulfill any need. This process develops new structures in their body which might be similar with some other species form the functioning point of view. But they are completely different in structure. Also, one must importantly term of Homoplasy is that, the new traits will not develop in the species which are derived from the same ancestor.

Sometimes individuals often get confused between the Convergent Evolution process & Homoplasy process. But there is a big difference between them. Homoplasy is a small part of the Convergent Evolution. The process by which the Analogous Structures are developed is known as Homoplasy. But the process by which two different species consisting Analogous Structures is known as Homoplasy. This means the Convergent Evolution process starts first. It has a phrase when the Analogous Structure starts generating. This phrase is known as Homoplasy. After the Homoplasy process is complete, Convergent Evolution again starts the evolutionary process & develops a completely new species.

Importance of Convergent Evolution

Though Convergent Evolution is not a major role-playing evolutionary process. But still, they perform a big role. Convergent Evolution tries to make new species with the help of nature. Nature forces the species to acquire new traits in them. This need to acquire a new character develops a new species. This process helps to maintain the nature rules very well. Without acquiring new characters no species can survive in nature. Hence, they will disappear gradually. Convergent Evolution helps them to evolve into a new species acquiring new traits.

Examples of Convergent Evolution

Wings of Flying Animal

Here, we will take Bat, Crow & Pterosaurs as an example. Bat is a mammal, Crow is a bird & Pterosaurs is from a reptile family. They all have wings to fly in the sky. But their structure is not the same. Not they have evolved from the same ancestor. That is why it is the Convergent Evolution. Due to some reason, they all prefer the sky as their growing space. But to live in the sky, they all should have wings. 

If we study the Pterosaurs, we find that only one Phalanges bone are involved to develop the membrane which works as the wings. Other Phalanges bones are situated outside of the wings & work as a claw. Same thing if we study Bat, we can find that all four Phalanges bones are involved to develop the membrane. Single one Phalanges bone is situated outside of the wings. But for Crow, we find that only Hummers, Ulna, and Radius are involved to develop the wings. All the Phalanges bones are merged together & develop a new type of bone that hold the wings of the bird.

So, it is visible that all the wings perform the same task. But they all are Anatomically different in structure.

Structure in Marine Animals

Dolphins & Sharks both are different in nature. Dolphin is from the mammal family & Shark is from the fish family. But they both developed flippers in their body. As they have to live in the water, they have to swim in it. For that purpose, they have developed common features in it. Also not only that, they have the same body structure which helps them to quickly move inside the water. They all are from different families, but as they evolve similar traits that is why it is known as Convergent Evolution.

Structure of Eye

Every animal has eyes. From this perspective, the eye is also a Convergent Evolution. Humans developed their eyes for living in bright & darkness. But some marine creatures develop their eyes only to live in the darkness. The eyes perform the same function to see. But as they are anatomically different for every creature that is why the eye is also a Convergent Evolution.

FAQs on Convergent Evolution

Question 1: What is Analogous Structure?


Analogous structures are those which perform the same function among different animals. But they are different from the Anatomical & Original perspectives. The structural difference in any similar functional organ is known as Analogous Organs. An analogous structure is the opposite of a Heterogeneous Structure.

Question 2: Which one is better-Divergent or Convergent Evolution?


Divergent evolution is better than Convergent Evolution. Divergent evolution takes less time than Convergent Evolution. Also, natural selection plays more role in Divergent Evolution. That is why species evolved by Divergent Evolution have more power to survive in nature.

Question 3: Is Convergent Evolution rare in nature?


Yes, Convergent Evolution is very rare in nature. That is why in this evolutionary process relatively less powerful species developed. Scientists claim that nearly 4% of species get developed by Convergent Evolution.

Question 4: What type of evolution is different in the human species?


The main human evolution is Divergent Evolution. But the difference which we can able to see in different continental areas, Convergent Evolution is the reason for that. Convergent Evolution makes a difference in different humans in different continental areas across the globe.

Question 5: Do Sparrow & Pterosaurs evolve from the same ancestors?


No, Sparrow & Pterosaurs performs the Convergent Evolution. As per the theory of Convergent Evolution, no species can directly evolve from a single ancestor. So, it is obvious that no Sparrow & Pterosaurs do not have common ancestors. 

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