Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Jennifer Sublett
  • Kristine O. EvansEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1144-1



Homology is the concept of physiological, morphological, or behavioral features in an organism that arise from common evolutionary ancestry.


When organisms diverge from each other in evolution, the resulting specialized traits can appear (and function) vastly different. However, upon closer inspection, evolutionary links often remain in the related species. A well-studied example of this can be observed in Fig. 1. The figure shows the similarities in structure development between a human hand and that of a bat wing. While the general bone positions and number are comparable, their functions are very different. Through time, the originally similar bat and human bones have evolved to serve unique purposes. Although it is probably most well-known for relating the physical characteristics of animals together, homology has been an important concept in exploring fields like genetics, learning, and behavior. By observing traits in...
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and AquacultureMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mystera M. Samuelson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute for Marine Mammal StudiesGulfportUSA