, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 133-135
Date: 07 Oct 2008

Adaptive Convergences in Perception Recognized

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Functional morphology has its limitations, partly because of the inability to divorce the influences of ancestry from function in understanding the form of a given structure. For instance, hypsodonty in a horses, camels, and oreodonts is commonly given as an example of an adaptation to grazing; yet once it evolved, hypsodonty may have simply added to niche breadth and not restricted an animal’s diet to grass exclusively. Though the source of morphology can never reasonably be categorized as only “inherited” or “functional”, as these two are not likely to exist without each other, the study of how distinct clades converge on similar forms and specializations is perhaps the best way in which to understand how organisms adapt to different foods, environments, and lifestyles. Once one gets past their charismatic megafauna role in popular culture, marine mammals can be seen as ideal study animals for looking at such convergences, because of the numerous times they have returned to an aquati ...