divergent evolution


: the development of dissimilar traits or features (as of body structure or behavior) in closely related populations, species, or lineages of common ancestry that typically occupy dissimilar environments or ecological niches
The finches that Charles Darwin described in the Galapagos Islands are a classic example of divergent evolution. The beaks of different species evolved in response to specific evolutionary forces—different foods available on the various islands.Henry Fountain

called also divergence

compare convergent evolution, parallel evolution

Examples of divergent evolution in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The classic example of divergent evolution is what is known as Darwin’s finches. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 1 June 2023 For the rest of us, one interesting and sometimes confusing aspect of evolution is the difference between convergent and divergent evolution. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 1 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'divergent 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

1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of divergent evolution was in 1856

Dictionary Entries Near divergent evolution

Cite this Entry

“Divergent evolution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divergent%20evolution. Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

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