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What is adaptive radiation? Explain with an example.

Last updated date: 15th Jun 2024
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Hint: It is an evolutionary process in which organisms have evolved in various ways throughout history.

Complete answer:
The evolution of an animal or plant group into a wide variety of types adapted to specialized modes of life is known as adaptive radiation. Adaptive radiations are best seen in closely related groups of organisms that have evolved in a relatively short duration.
An important example is Darwin’s finches. In the Galapagos Islands, which are formed of small masses of land, various finches are seen that differ greatly in the shape and size of their bills, which are suited to their diverse feeding habits.

Additional Information: Groups of species show several patterns of evolution such as convergent evolution, divergent evolution, and parallel evolution.
-In convergent evolution species that are not closely related to each other evolve similar kinds of traits and features. For example, dragonflies, hawks, and bats all have wings with the same function but a different structure.
-In divergent evolution, a trait held by a common ancestor evolves into different variations over time. A common example of divergent evolution is the vertebrate limb which is pentadactyl in structure but performs different functions of flying, swimming, walking, gripping.
-In parallel evolution, different species start with similar ancestral origins, then evolve similar traits over time. The example of parallel evolution is found among plants, in which several similar but distinct forms of leaves can be seen nowadays.

Note: Coevolution takes place when closely interacting species exert pressures on each other so that they evolve together in a kind of adaptation. Examples of coevolution are seen among predator-prey species and host-parasite groups.