Q:

What are some examples of morphological convergence?

A:

There are several well-known examples of morphological convergence, including butterflies and snakes. These species develop similar color and marking traits of more dangerous organisms via morphological convergence as a survival mechanism.

Butterflies like the monarch butterfly are brightly colored to let predators know that they are poisonous and to stay away. Other butterflies like the viceroy adapt to mimic these colors and patterns to protect themselves. Predators learn to associate the bright colors or color patterns with a prey that will make them sick or not taste good. By looking similar enough to the non-palatable species, the palatable creature is protected from more predators.

Coral snakes are well known for this morphological convergence. These snakes closely mimic the pattern of a venomous king snake. Predators like hawks see the bright red and yellow on the coral snakes and immediately think that the snake is venomous like the king snake. This protects the coral snake, which is smaller and non-venomous.

Morphological convergence can also occur when an organism needs to adapt to environment as well. New world and old world vultures are a good example of this. For many years, these birds were both thought to descend from raptors. The old world vultures do descend from raptors, but studies have proven that new world vultures descend from cranes and storks. The new world vultures develop similar traits and appearance to the old world vultures due to living in similar environments and needing to adapt to survive in those environments.


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