Convergent Evolution describes the way that unrelated or distantly related organisms develop similar body shapes, organ functions, colors, or adaptations. Convergent evolution is when species of different lineages independently evolve similar features.
Examples of Convergent Evolution:
1. Although bats and butterflies are obviously different species, the shape of their wings are similar.
Bats are an amazing example of convergent evolution of flight. Flight has evolved independently multiple times. First in insects over 330 million years ago, then in pterosaur reptiles 225 million years ago, then in birds 150 million years ago. Bats are the most recent to independently develop this a mere 50-60 million years ago, and are the only mammals to do so (Simmons, 2008).
2. Independent convergent evolution of salivary amylase in human and rodents indicates that there has been strong positive selection for salivary amylase at some points during mammalian evolution (Meisler et al., 1993).
3. Both primates and corvids have developed high intelligence such as tool manufacture, mental time travel and
social cognition. Both depend on a “toolbox” of causal reasoning, flexibility, imagination and prospection. This is an example of convergent evolution because cognitive tools have arisen multiple times in distantly related species. They have vastly different brain structures but were solving similar socioecological problems (Emery and Clayton, 2004).
Emery, N. J., & Clayton, N. S. (2004). The mentality of crows: convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes. science, 306(5703), 1903-1907.
Meisler, MH and Ting, CN. 1993. The remarkable evolutionary history of the human amylase genes. Critical Reviews in Oral Biology and Medicine. 4 (3/4): 503-509.
Simmons, N. B., Seymour, K. L., Habersetzer, J., & Gunnell, G. F. (2008). Primitive Early Eocene bat from Wyoming and the evolution of flight and echolocation. Nature, 451(7180), 818-821. doi:10.1038/nature06549