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In other cases, similar phenotypes evolve independently in distantly related species. For example, flight has evolved in both bats and insects, and they both have structures we refer to as wings, which are adaptations to flight. However, the wings of bats and insects have evolved from very different original structures. This phenomenon is called convergent evolution    , where similar traits evolve independently in species that do not share a common ancestry. The two species came to the same function, flying, but did so separately from each other.

These physical changes occur over enormous spans of time and help explain how evolution occurs. Natural selection acts on individual organisms, which in turn can shape an entire species. Although natural selection may work in a single generation on an individual, it can take thousands or even millions of years for the genotype of an entire species to evolve. It is over these large time spans that life on earth has changed and continues to change.

Evidence of evolution

The evidence for evolution is compelling and extensive. Looking at every level of organization in living systems, biologists see the signature of past and present evolution. Darwin dedicated a large portion of his book, On the Origin of Species , to identifying patterns in nature that were consistent with evolution, and since Darwin, our understanding has become clearer and broader.

Fossils

Fossils provide solid evidence that organisms from the past are not the same as those found today, and fossils show a progression of evolution. Scientists determine the age of fossils and categorize them from all over the world to determine when the organisms lived relative to each other. The resulting fossil record tells the story of the past and shows the evolution of form over millions of years ( [link] ). For example, scientists have recovered highly detailed records showing the evolution of humans and horses ( [link] ). The whale flipper shares a similar morphology to appendages of birds and mammals ( [link] ) indicating that these species share a common ancestor.

Photo A shows a museum display of hominid skulls that vary in size and shape. Illustration B shows five extinct species related and similar in appearance to the modern horse. The species vary in size from that of a modern horse to that of a medium-sized dog.
In this (a) display, fossil hominids are arranged from oldest (bottom) to newest (top). As hominids evolved, the shape of the skull changed. An artist’s rendition of (b) extinct species of the genus Equus reveals that these ancient species resembled the modern horse ( Equus ferus ) but varied in size.

Anatomy and embryology

Another type of evidence for evolution is the presence of structures in organisms that share the same basic form. For example, the bones in the appendages of a human, dog, bird, and whale all share the same overall construction ( [link] ) resulting from their origin in the appendages of a common ancestor. Over time, evolution led to changes in the shapes and sizes of these bones in different species, but they have maintained the same overall layout. Scientists call these synonymous parts homologous structures    .

Illustration compares a human arm, dog and bird legs, and a whale flipper. All appendages have the same bones, but the size and shape of these bones vary.
The similar construction of these appendages indicates that these organisms share a common ancestor.

Some structures exist in organisms that have no apparent function at all, and appear to be residual parts from a past common ancestor. These unused structures without function are called vestigial structures . Other examples of vestigial structures are wings on flightless birds, leaves on some cacti, and hind leg bones in whales.

Questions & Answers

guys what is locomotion?
Misheal Reply
what is anatomy
Mohamed Reply
no idea
Benard
Anatomy is the branch of science that deals with the study of internal and external structures of an organism
Bigenis
Anatomy is the branch of science that deals with the study of the internal structure of an organism
Nana
what is locomotion?
Misheal
no idea
John
Locomotion may simply mean the movement of an organism from one point to another without permanent displacement of the organidm it'self
Bigenis
simply, its the ability to move
MissMeriiit
Thanks guys
Misheal
I have gotten it
Dickens
locomotion as an art student is the ability to move from on place to another
John
muscles that are concerned with locomotion
John
Anatomy deals with the study of internal structures of an organism
Osei
what are the theory if cells
Julius Reply
What's the function of epiglottis
Ugo Reply
What Is The Other Name For Intestinal Juice?
Justin Reply
what is the largestest planet of the universe
rick Reply
what are the types of cell
Bernard Reply
prokaryotic and eukaryotic
Yazi
prokaryotic cell and eukaryotic cell
Grace
what is the protein found in the blood?
Tobias Reply
globin
Joelia
Globin
globulins
EZRA
globulins
SASMITA
globulins
Grace
what is parasitic movement
Emmanuel Reply
Parasitic movement is a problem for all of us. So is its companion, parasitic tension. Parasitic movement is the excess contraction of muscles that you don't actually need to complete an action.
freya
HW a u
Nyandera
cool
Bigenis
am OK how a u
Ocen
absorption may simply mean utilization of food in the body
Bigenis
what are eukaryotic cells
Thiza Reply
eukaryotic cells which posses a true nucleus that is the DNA is enclosed and covered by a nuclear membrane
Grace
what is the mean of pair of chromosomes
Kazula Reply
hi
Lagos
23 haploid and 23diploid
Patson
how are you studying in this quarantine? .. how are you keeping yourselves motivated?
sivajijadhav @815.com
good morning guyz
Joelia
morning
Kazula
hi
Justin
Good
Angela
tell me if you know what can be used...than reading pls hint me pls 🙏🙏🙏
Angela
good, reading all alone is the best for me
Julius
what is the important of sex
Aremu Reply
why did human being need sex?
Aremu
because he/she have feelings
Chripine
reproduction...to make more
Yazi
due to active harmon
Manish
One important of sex is to reproduce
Emma
to ensure the countinuty of life
Yusuf
all of you are right
Edith
for sexual satisfaction and birth
Grace
what is momentum
Asiya Reply
The strength or force that allows something to continue or grow stronger or faster as time pass
Emma
What is Centripetal Force?
Justin
centrepital force is the inward force required to keep a body moving with constant speed in a circular path
Yusuf
what is the test for protein
Takii Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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