In this video from the New York Time’s James Gorman, we see an evolutionary convergence: in unrelated creatures that swim with a single undulating fin, the length of the “wave” propagating along that fin is about 20 times longer than the side-to-side displacement of the fin. This ratio has evolved repeatedly. Why is that?
Gorman explains; click on the screenshot below to go to the video:
Note that Gorman says, “Eight times evolution faced the same physics problem; eight times it got the right answer.” That shows that there weren’t severe constraints on approaching the “adaptive peak”. That is, when we have some external criteria for judging how close an adaptation gets to “perfection,” in this case (and other cases, such as mimicry), it gets pretty damn close. (Note: you might contemplate what aspects of morphology, physiology, and behavior have to change to get to this ratio.)
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