Homoplasy Definition

A homoplasy is a mutual character in between two or much more animals the did not arise native a common ancestor. A homoplasy is the opposite of a homology, where a typical ancestor detailed the gene that gave rise come the trait in 2 or more animals. Often, a homoplasy will occur when two an extremely different teams of pets evolve to carry out the same thing. This is well-known as convergent evolution, or convergence. Sometimes, a homoplasy characteristics is called an analogous trait. The best method to acquire an expertise of what is and is not a homoplasy is to go over part examples.

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Homoplasy Examples

Homoplasy in Wings

The most basic homoplasy to know is the characteristics of wings. Transparent the animal kingdom, wing have developed in a number of various shapes and also materials, however their basic function is the same: flight. Birds, bats, and also many insects have evolved wings. In every case, the trait progressed independently of the other groups. The closest usual ancestor that birds, bats and also insects most absolutely did not have actually wings. After ~ the lineages diverged, or headed turn off in their very own direction, a similar pressure of flight being useful caused all lineages to develop flight.


To identify whether beetle and also butterfly wings space a homoplasy or a homology, scientists have to look at the hereditary lineage the beetles and also butterflies and determine if their typical ancestor is the factor they have wings. Although wings in insects were when thought together a totally homologous trait, much more genetic evidence has begun to present that wings have developed multiple times in insects.

Homoplasy in Beaks

While no an often cited homoplasy, a squid and a falcon re-publishing a trait. In ~ the opening of your mouth is a big beak, regularly sharp and also meant come tear their food apart. However, it can be seen automatically from your forms, areas of living, and closest genetic relatives, the the octopus and the falcon walk not gain their beaks native a common ancestor. The beaks advanced through convergence, or in other words, a similar need to rip throat-sized chunks from a prey animal. If it might not it is in pretty, development does tend to produce comparable results given comparable circumstances.

Not a Homoplasy

Now that you have a decent knowledge of what a homoplasy is, let’s walk over what it is not. Any time the trait is pass from parental to offspring, the trait is no a homoplasy. If a parental passes the properties to your offspring, the trait is a homology. Once the trait it s okay passed under a lengthy line of ancestors, the descendants can start to vary from each various other in numerous ways. However, if lock both still possess the trait, the is still a homologous trait, and not a homoplasy.

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For instance, we are all familiar with mammals. Scientist, through years of examine of their defining traits, and an ext recently, confirmations noted by hereditary testing, have presented that mammals room a definable team of animals. These animals, through definition, have actually mammary glands i beg your pardon they use to feed your young. Back the mammary glands of whales and also cows watch different, and function in various ways, they are advanced from a usual ancestor that had a primitive kind of mammary glands. Therefore, mammary glands in whales and also cows space homologous, not homoplastic.

Sperm whale mom with calf

Related biological Terms

Homology – the opposite of a homoplasy, a homology is as soon as a mutual trait is as result of a typical ancestor passing the characteristics on to 2 or more lineage. Lineage – A heat of organisms the connects previous ancestors to living organisms. Selection – forces that permit some organisms to reproduce more than others.