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Explain adaptive radiation with the help of a suitable example.

Last updated date: 18th Jun 2024
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Hint: Due to natural selection, adaptive radiation is possible. Adaptive radiation is the evolution of a group of animals or plants into a wide range of organisms adapted to specialized lifestyles. In closely related groups that have formed in a relatively short period, it is best exemplified.

Complete answer:
The process of evolution of different organisms in a given geographical region is called adaptive radiation, beginning from a point and simply radiating to other areas or habitats.
A striking example is the radiation of basal mammalian stock into forms adapted to running, jumping, climbing, swimming, and flying, starting in the Paleogene Period (beginning 66 million years ago). Australian marsupials, cichlid fish, and Darwin's finches (also known as Galapagos finches) are other examples.
Australian marsupials, such as placental wolves and Tasmanian wolves, have evolved from a common ancestor and placental mammals show similarities with their corresponding marsupials.
The modification of finch beaks on the island of Galapagos. Darwin's finches, which he discovered on the Galapagos Islands, are one of the most famous examples of adaptive radiation. On the island, he observed a variety of birds, all of which were created from a single seed-eating species which accidentally landed there. Therefore, birds with a variety of beaks have evolved because of the numerous feeding practices. Different birds with a difference in food availability formed distinct feeding habits that helped all of them survive in that environment.

Note: Adaptive radiation in evolutionary biology is a process in which organisms rapidly diversify into a multitude of new forms from an ancestral species, especially when a change in the environment makes new resources accessible, alters biotic interactions, or opens new niches in the environment. This process results in the speciation and phenotypic adaptation of a number of organisms exhibiting different morphological and physiological characteristics, beginning with a single ancestor.