In evolutionary biology, the term analogous structures pertain to the various structures in different species having the same function but have evolved separately, thus do not share common ancestor. In comparison, the homologous structures pertain to the structures that show similar morphology and anatomy but have different functions. Moreover, the homologous structures are believed to have evolved from a common ancestor since they show similar development pattern during embryonic development.
The term analogous structures is applied in the concept of convergent evolution (convergence), which pertains to the evolutionary process wherein the organisms evolve bodily parts that are analogous in terms of structure and function despite their ancestors that are very dissimilar or unrelated. Examples of analogous structures are as follows:
- wings of insects and birds used for flying
- jointed legs of insects and vertebrates used for locomotion
- fins of fish and flippers of whales (mammals)
These structures show that they have the same function, e.g. flight or locomotion but have a different origin or that they have evolved separately.