Download Convergent Evolution: Limited Forms Most Beautiful by George McGhee PDF

By George McGhee

Charles Darwin famously concluded at the beginning of Species with a imaginative and prescient of ''endless types so much beautiful'' always evolving. greater than one hundred fifty years later many evolutionary biologists see no longer never-ending varieties however the related, or very comparable, types evolving again and again in lots of autonomous species lineages. A porpoise's fishlike fins, for instance, usually are not inherited from fish ancestors yet are independently derived convergent features. during this ebook, George McGhee describes the ubiquity of the phenomenon of convergent evolution and connects it on to the concept that of evolutionary constraint--the concept that the variety of evolutionary pathways to be had to lifestyles aren't never-ending, yet rather constrained. Convergent evolution happens on all degrees, from tiny natural molecules to whole ecosystems of species. McGhee demonstrates its ubiquity in animals, either herbivore and carnivore; in vegetation; in ecosystems; in molecules, together with DNA, proteins, and enzymes; or even in minds, describing problem-solving habit and crew habit because the items of convergence. for every species instance, he offers an abbreviated checklist of the main nodes in its phylogenetic type, permitting the reader to determine the evolutionary dating of a bunch of species that experience independently advanced the same trait by means of convergent evolution. McGhee analyzes the function of useful and developmental constraints in generating convergent evolution, and considers the medical and philosophical implications of convergent evolution for the predictability of the evolutionary procedure.

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Instead of using visual detection to hunt its prey, it uses electrosensory detection. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and seven groups of fishes have independently evolved the capability to detect an electric field in water. 5). The duckbill platypus is a semiaquatic predator capable of hunting in total darkness under water (Gregory et al. 1987; Proske and Gregory 2003); it has thus converged on the same hunting strategy used by the electric fishes. The Australian echidna is a land-dwelling animal, however, and electric field intensities in air are very weak compared to those that can be developed in water.

The rarity of bipedal mammalian animals is probably a function of developmental constraint, as opposed to functional constraint, for the earliest mammals and their ancestors were quadrupedal. The persistence of this symplesiomorphic trait in mammalian evolution may be due more to “developmental inertia,” in that the quadrupedal condition is the inherited norm, than to any possible nonfunctionality of bipedal mammalian forms. In contrast, bipedalism is a synapomorphy for the Dinosauria—their earliest forms, both carnivores and herbivores, were bipedal.

In the animals, mode of locomotion is usually independent of how the animal feeds; that is, whether it is a carnivore or an herbivore. Some burrowing mammals are carnivores, like talpid moles, while others are herbivores, like tuco-tucos (Nevo 1999). Some flying birds are carnivores, 30 Chapter 2 like hawks; others are herbivores, like parrots. Similary, some flying bats are carnivores, like the insectivorous microbats, while others are herbivores, like the frugivorous megabats. In addition to locomotion, the particular mode of feeding of an animal imposes additional functional constraints, which again are reflected in subsequent convergent evolution, as we shall see in the next section of the chapter.

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