This article will explore the process of parallel evolution. What is this phenomenon? How does it occur? How do we know that it’s happening, and what can we learn from it? Read on to find out!
What is Parallel Evolution?
Parallel evolution is the process by which two or more species, in different lineages, independently evolve into similar adaptations as a result of their being subjected to similar natural selective pressures.
The process of parallel evolution
This can be demonstrated through examples such as sticklebacks that evolved from ocean fish and freshwater fish converging on the same body form—a flattened shape that gives them more protection and is better suited to both environments.
Parallel evolution can be observed in other species as well—for example, two closely related types of beetles that have evolved from a common ancestor into different sizes; or finches evolving differently because they inhabit different islands.
The process occurs when separate populations go through the same evolutionary processes that result in descendants with different traits.
The concept of parallel evolution was introduced into evolutionary biology during the 1940s by Russian geneticist and entomologist, Sergei Chetverikov who studied eye development in insects.
Some scientists believe this process is driven primarily by natural selection’s differential reproduction rates between closely related populations.
The key point to remember is that parallel evolution can only happen when populations of organisms are in contact with each other.
What are three examples of parallel evolution?
A. The evolution of the giraffe’s long neck and other adaptations to a dry, desert environment is an example of parallel evolution.
B. Although it has been extinct for over 50 million years, the closest living relative to Tyrannosaurus rex is actually a bird, showing that dinosaurs are parallel descendants from birds!
C. In North America there are three types of squirrels: red-bellied tree squirrels in the eastern part of Canada (which includes Ontario), northern flying squirrels in Alaska and British Columbia, and Douglas’ ground squirrels throughout most areas west of central Montana. All three species have evolved specialized traits which allow them to live their respective lifestyles successfully while avoiding interbreeding with each other – thus exhibiting what is known as parallel evolution.
What can we learn from Parallel Evolution?
There are many things we can learn from Parallel Evolution. We could, for example, say that it’s the result of natural selection between two different species in a given area which is what happens when speciation occurs.
We could also look at this as evidence to support the idea that evolution takes place over time- one animal evolves into another due to environmental pressures and changes within an ecosystem.
Finally, we might be able to infer from parallel evolution alone that all members of a single family are related by common descent but not necessarily identical; even if they share many similar physical traits or regions of DNA with other animals who belong to their same genus – while still enjoying some degree of distinction on account of having evolved independently for long periods without interbreeding with others members of their relatives.
Parallel vs. convergent evolution
Given a particular trait that occurs in each of two species, if the trait has arisen in both lineages from a common ancestor then it is indicative of convergent evolution. If on the other hand, they have shared an ancestral form and that particular lineage forked off to evolve independently at some point in time – while still retaining enough similarity to their original or ‘ancestral’ state that they can be classified as part of the same grouping (i.e., subgenus), then divergence represents parallel evolution. It means that we might not be identical, but we are still related.
Parallel evolution is the development of a species along two or more independent lines of descent. The word parallel, in its strict sense, refers to a straight line that does not intersect other lines in space; thus it is only possible for one lineage to undergo (parallel) evolutionary change at any given time-point while all others remain unchanged because they have already undergone such changes earlier. This phenomenon can be observed when looking at different types of apes: chimps and humans are both bipedal primates but their modes of locomotion evolved independently from each other over millions of years.
The distinction between parallel and convergent evolution becomes subjective when the lines of evolution follow each other. For example, the wings of penguins and bats are analogous structures because they both evolved from a common ancestor (the proto-amphibian) that also gave rise to reptiles such as lizards and snakes.
The three types of parallelism in evolutionary development can be classified into macroevolutionary level: within species or subspecies; between different genera/families but not kingdoms; at higher levels with classification including orders, classes, phyla, etc.;
This means we would need much more time for humans to evolve independently than chimps since our last shared ancestor lived over six million years ago while theirs is only about seven hundred thousand years old; this difference could help explain why chimpanzees have a small degree of genetic variability while humans have relatively high levels;
Still, the most important difference is that chimps and other primates do not show signs of tool use or complex language in their behavior.
The first stage involves the development of an analogous structure within species/subspecies (e.g., wings among different types of birds);
While this type can be seen as similar to convergent evolution since they originate independently from a common ancestor whose adaptation did not work out well enough for it to survive to the present day, there are two major differences: one is that parallelism occurs on much longer time scales than what we see with divergent evolution and does not involve speciation events so it should not produce any new lineage.
A number of examples of parallel evolution are provided by the two main branches of the vertebrate family tree, cartilaginous fish and bony fishes.
This type of evolution typically occurs when two similar species are separated from a common ancestor by geographical isolation and then evolve in different directions due to new environmental pressures that they face each on its own location;
For example, sharks have developed analogous structures such as jaws for eating which work much better than what we saw with certain types of prehistoric reptiles or amphibians. Similarly, some birds like crows use their beaks to create tools out of materials found around them (e.g., pulling off pieces of wire) while parrots modify sticks into probing instruments used to extract insects from trees without harming other branches nearby.