Homoplasy: The Recurrence of Similarity in Evolution

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This may be the first, but one hopes not the last, book-length treatment of this compelling topic. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Academic Press. Condition: New. Seller Inventory NEW More information about this seller Contact this seller. Book Description Academic Press, Homoplasy: The Recurrence of Similarity in Evolution. Publisher: Academic Press , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Why do unrelated organisms sometimes appear almost identical in details of the anatomy, behavior, physiology, and ecology? From the Back Cover : The authors of this book investigate one of the most fascinating and, for many decades, most intractable of evolutionary conundrums-why do unrelated organisms sometimes appear almost identical in details of anatomy, behavior, physiology, and ecology?

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Review : "The editors are successful in their goal of demonstrating that the study of homoplasy is an important field in its own right and that it is more than just a nuisance factor in phylogenetic analyses or the opposite of homology. This is a fascinating theory, implying an intelligence-driven optimization and acceleration of morphological and functional complexity. It proposes that eyes created a vastly more competitive, discriminatory, and intelligent evolutionary environment set of selection pressures in multicellular evolutionary space.

Once they emerged, it is easy to argue that all visible animals in that intelligence-leading environment needed eyes, or other highly effective defensive strategies, to survive. Intelligence, in this case, and perhaps generally, appears to be part of a physical and informational optimization function, in the most morphologically and functionally complex environments.


Homoplasy: The Recurrence of Similarity in Evolution

Many other examples of OC can be proposed, in the most physically and informationally complex, and rapidly changing, environments on Earth, including the necessary emergence of eukaryotes, oxidative phosphorylation, multicellularity, nervous systems, bilateral symmetry, jointed limbs, opposable thumbs, tool and language use on land much faster-improving than aqueous environments , culture, and technology, including machine intelligence.

Future science will need better theories of complexity, complexification, and optimization, to deeply understand convergence, and to distinguish the much greater variety of examples of less-optimized convergence from the most highly optimized forms. When convergence is viewed from the perspective not of the evolving species, but from some larger systems level the biogeography, the planet, the universe we can view optimizing convergent evolution as a process of not simply evolution, but of evolutionary development ED. Evo-devo biology offers us the canonical example of evolutionary development, at the organismic system level.

In organisms, most molecular and cellular processes operate chaotically, contingently, and locally adaptively, a process with many dynamical similarities to species evolution.

Homoplasy: The Recurrence of Similarity in Evolution

Yet a special few of these molecular and cellular processes, driven by developmental genes and environmental constancies, are chaos-reducing, convergent, constraining, and statistically predictable, or developmental. We can generalize from organismic evo-devo to construct a general theory of ED for any replicating system. When we claim a convergence process is an example of ED, we are not only claiming that some kind of general optimization is occurring. We are also claiming that some kind of evolutionary developmental process, with both "random" and creative evolutionary search, and predictable convergence, directionality, hierarchy, modularity, life cycle, and perhaps other features found in biological development, is being followed, at some larger systems level.

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  • List of examples of convergent evolution - Evo Devo Universe.
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We see both mostly stochastic and contingent processes, along with a few convergent and hierarchical processes, in such evolutionary and developmental phenomena as embryogenesis. Evo devo models assume such a process is going on even at the universal scale, and thus that some examples of convergence can be better understood in complex systems theory as not simply evolution, but evolutionary development. If universal evolutionary development is occurring, future science must show that each successive environment in the developmental hierarchy inherits certain initial conditions and physical constancies from the environment that preceded it, back to the birth of the universe, and that some of these initial conditions and constancies act to predictably constrain the future dynamics of each successive environment, to some degree.

These constraints have been called developmental portals by some scholars. M-class stars and organic chemistry may be necessary portals to planets capable of generating life. Fats, proteins, and nucleic acids may be necessary portals to cells. Eyes may be necessary portals to higher nervous systems, etc.

Homoplasy - Wikipedia

These portals must also work together to periodically produce a metasystem transition a higher level of order or control , a new level of ED hierarchy. Another example of predictable developmental signal, across all of these environments, may be the ever-faster complexification we see in the historical record of the most physically and informationally complex locations in our universe, since the emergence of M-class stars, Earth-like planets, and almost simultaneously, on our planet, life. This acceleration was famously summarized in Carl Sagan's metaphor of the Cosmic Calendar.

Ever since August, on this calendar metaphor, leading-edge complexity environments have become exponentially faster, more complex, and more intelligent, on average, on Earth. Sagan said this phenomenon, which we can call acceleration studies , was an understudied area of science, in need of better understanding. See Sagan's The Dragons of Eden for his original account.

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It our hope that better models of early universe, astrophysical, chemical, biological, psychological, social, economic, technological, and other evolutionary development will help us understand our universe's emergence record of ever faster and more physically- and informationally-complex local environments. For a deeper introduction to this topic, see our wiki page, evolutionary development.

Convergent evolution —the evolutionary emergence of similar traits forms or functions in unrelated lineages—is rife in nature, as illustrated by the examples below. Convergence occasionally even creates cryptic species , organisms so similar in appearance that their uniqueness can only be discerned by discovering their separate breeding lineages, or analyzing their genes. The most common cause of convergence is a similar evolutionary biome , as similar environments select for similar traits in many species occupying the same ecological niche, even when those species are only distantly related.

Environmental convergence causes can be both physical and informational in nature.

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Species convergence on the archetypal shape of fish fins seems a primarily due to physical functional constraints streamlining reduces drag in water. The convergence on eyes, of which there are eight major optical types in animals, apparently happened at least a dozen times in evolutionary history, presumably due to informational functional constraints seeing allows better navigation of the environment.

Certain forms of convergence eyes, synapses are particularly advantageous for surviving in informationally-complex environments, and completing against other informationally-complex species. Not simply local adaptation, but some general optimization function may exist for such environments.

Homoplasy - Wikipedia audio article