convergent evolution


: the independent development of similar traits or features (as of body structure or behavior) in unrelated or distantly related species or lineages that typically occupy similar environments or ecological niches
The remarkable resemblance of these moths to hummingbirds is a case of convergent evolution. Both are after the same thing: nectar deep within tubular flowers that lack "landing pads."Dan Gill
In some cases, a taxon is composed of the descendants of unrelated ancestors that evolved similar features by convergent evolution and for this reason have been mistaken as relatives.Douglas J. Futuyma

called also convergence

compare analogy, divergent evolution, parallel evolution

Examples of convergent evolution in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The milk didn’t come through a nipple, the researchers found, but from within the amphibian’s cloaca in a case of convergent evolution. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 May 2024 This could be the app version of convergent evolution, which led humans and koalas to each have opposable thumbs. Shira Ovide, Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2024 Eyespots and shell eyes each evolved two separate times across the phylogeny — representing two separate instances of convergent evolution. Quanta Magazine, 29 Feb. 2024 This striking example of convergent evolution highlights how snake venoms are not only evolving for predation but for defense as well. Scott Travers, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 Variants continually compete in a veritable survival of the fittest, acquiring the same or similar mutations through a form of parallel evolution known as convergent evolution. Erin Prater, Fortune Well, 19 Dec. 2023 The classic example of convergent evolution is flight. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 1 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'convergent evolution.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1898, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of convergent evolution was in 1898

Dictionary Entries Near convergent evolution

Cite this Entry

“Convergent evolution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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