Evolutionary convergences and parallelisms: Their theoretical differences and the difficulty of discriminating them in a practical phylogenetic context

Sep 1, 2005

The importance of evolutionary parallelisms and their differences from evolutionary convergences have been historically underappreciated, as recently noticed in Gould's last book `The structure of evolutionary history'. In that book, Gould make an effort to distinguish and to reinterpret these concepts in the light of the new discoveries of the last decades on developmental biology and genetics, presenting the elegant metaphor of `Pharaonic bricks versus Corinthian columns'. In this paper I will briefly discuss these concepts, and will argue that, despite the advances that have been made to define them in theory, it is rather hard to differentiate them in a practical phylogenetic context. In order to do so, I will provide some few examples from my own empirical studies on the last years of one of the most morphologically and taxonomically diverse groups of Vertebrates, the catfishes.