Convergent and divergent evolution

Evolution is one of the most extraordinary phenomena in Biology. Not all the ecosystems are the same, as they differ in many perspectives. Evolution is one of the dynamic areas constantly under the influence of many external and internal forces. Consequently, a degree of variation is possible in the  pattern of evolution. Two most important patterns of all are the convergent and the divergent evolutionConvergent Evolution is when 2 or more distinct species have evolved to produce similar traits under the similar environmental circumstances in which they lived and bred in. Convergent evolution forms two or different species with similar traits, irrespective of their ancestry. A convergent evolution is one of the natural selection process. For example, the similar presentation of the flight/wings of insects, birds, pterosaurs, and bats. All the 4 serve the same function beside a similar structure, but each of them has evolved independently. On the other hand,  Divergent evolution reveals,  how species can separate (diverge) into new forms as a result of the accumulation of slight changes over time due to the influence of environment and other factors.  To exemplify, the vertebrates like pigs, birds, monkeys, and whales had the same set of bones in their forelimbs, but over a period of time, they evolved differently resulting in their usage for different purposes. The following table illustrates the distinguishing features of convergent and divergent evolution.


Differences between Convergent and Divergent Evolution

Convergent Evolution

Divergent Evolution

It is the consequence of adaptation by a group of similar species to a particular environment in which one or more of the species acquired some similarities.

The ancestral species are diverged into a number of different species ultimately resulting in the formation of new species.

It is due to the influence of internal environmental factors within a specified geographical area

It occurs due to migration and environmental changes beyond the local area

The convergent species looks same from the outside, but they resemble their ancestors internally.

They may vary both externally and internally.

Few examples of convergent evolution are:

  1. Wings of insects, birds, bats

  2. The streamlined body of dolphins and shark

Darwin's finches are the best example of divergent evolution.



Read more


 Darwin`s theory of evolution  


introduction to evolution                         


Evidences for evolution


Mechanism of evolution


Adaptive radiation



Important Questions

  1. A group of organisms exhibits similar traits under the similar environmental circumstances, what kind of evolution it is?

  2. Distinguish between convergent and divergent evolution.

  3. What are Darwin`s finches, explain?

  4. 2 or more organisms using similar body part for a different purpose- identify the type of evolution here. 


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