Friday, February 20, 2009

Convergent evolution in pigmentation   posted by Razib @ 2/20/2009 11:16:00 AM

Short article in Conservation and Convergence of Colour Genetics: MC1R Mutations in brown Cavefish:
One of the most striking observations in nature is when similar phenotypes appear independently, such as wings in birds and bats, or melanism in moths and mice. These examples of so-called convergent evolution naturally lead us to ponder the question of genetic repeatability, i.e., the extent to which similar phenotypes that evolved in parallel share the same genetic mechanisms. Cave-dwelling organisms provide an attractive system for studying genetic repeatability, since populations in geographically isolated caves often undergo striking convergent evolution in response to the drastically altered environment, with reduced pigmentation and vision being particularly common phenotypes.