Divergent evolution is the process of tracing back two or more species to their common ancestor. This indicates how these species have diversified and diverged. For example, a flock of bird in migration gets divided as half of them settled to a new island while the other half continued migrating to a farther land. Over time, the two groups become more adapted by developing new characteristics to enable them to survive to their new habitats. Thus, they become a different species to their ancestors and what was once one species has diverged into two.
Divergent evolution may be used in contrast to a related term convergent evolution. The latter pertains to the type of evolution wherein organisms evolve (analogous) structures in spite of their evolutionary ancestors being very dissimilar or unrelated. Analogous structures are those that have the same function but differ in developmental origin and anatomical features. In contrast, species from a common ancestral origin and have anatomically similar structures but dissimilar function are in the state of homology and such structures are referred to as homologous structures.
- divergence (evolutionary biology)