Todd Oakley at the University of California is unravelling the mysteries of convergent and parallel evolution in a variety of organisms, aided by post-doctoral students on several projects.
“My research involves comparisons of independent evolutionary transitions such as convergence, parallelism, duplication, and homoplasy. Such transitions provide an element of replicability within the singular history of life, and can yield insight into the most general evolutionary questions. For example, when and why do the same molecular or developmental changes underlie similar – though independent – evolutionary changes? What are the fates of duplicated genes, and what causes them to diversify or retain old functions? How can we even determine what is an independent evolutionary event?”
One of his students has discovered that chitons have eye lenses made of aragonite, which is the material used by trilobites.