Evolutionary Divergence: The commonality that underlies differencesScience project video

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Evolutionary divergence refers to how different species are able to evolve from the a single species, as the result of populations becoming isolated from the rest of the species. If these isolated populations are exposed to different environmental demands, new species may evolve. A species of butterfly may have yellow wings. Imagine the destruction of the butterflies? habitat and that part of the population leaves the habitat for a new one. If the new habitat has different environmental pressures than the previous habitat, this population of butterflies will develop new adaptations in order to survive. For example, if the new habitat is barren and sandy, the butterfly may evolve a new wing color, that will help it blend in with its new environment. In this manner, a new species of butterfly evolves. In this science fair project, you will create a display on evolutionary divergence.


Identify evolutionary divergent species.


In evolutionary divergence, the changes in a species can vary, including physical outward characteristics, behavioral, or anatomical. A classic example of divergent evolution is the finches of the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin noticed how the finches that inhabited the island display great variation in their beak structure. The beaks of each species were specifically suited to the diet of the finch. Darwin theorized that finches had evolved from a single species in order to avoid competition for food sources. By developing a unique beak structure, each species could take advantage of a specialized diet; thus avoiding competition with other finches.

Scientific Terms

Divergent Evolution, Species


  • Internet access
  • Poster board
  • Glue stick, paste, or tape.
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Printer
  • Scissors


You will be creating a display for your science fair project.

Note: Refer to the resources under the bibliography section as well other online resources to conduct this science project.

  1. Think of an animal species that interests you. In the following procedure, the fox will be used as an example.
  2. Use the internet to identify the various species of foxes that exist. You can select as many species as you want. In this procedure, the red fox and fennec fox will be used.
  3. Research the habits of the species you selected. Consider:
    1. Habitat
    2. Diet
    3. Predators
    4. Climate
  4. Research the differences that exist between the species. Example: The red fox has a reddish coat, while the fennecs fox has a light fur color. Red foxes live in meadows, fields, and woodlands, while the fennec fox lives in the deserts of Africa.
  5. Infer how the differences in the species could serve as adaptations to the environment. Example: The reddish fur color of the red fox enables it to blend into the woodlands, while the light color of the fennec fox acts as a camouflage against the desert sands.
  6. Create the elements for your science project display by doing the following:
    1. Print out pictures of your species.
    2. Print out picture of the species habitat.
    3. Print out any additional information that supports how the species differ.
    4. Write out a description of divergent evolution.
    5. Write a background on your species and its habitat.
    6. Write a conclusion about what you learned from this project.
  7. Attach your information to the poster board to make a display.


Evolutionary divergence does not only appear among animal species; it can also be found in plants and human beings. What examples can you find of evolutionary divergence in humans?

Questions & Answers

Why does evolution occur?

Evolution is thought to occur in order for a species to better adapt to its environment. The environment is always changing, and species sometimes find themselves in new environments (Example: Species crossing the ocean and ending up on islands, or a natural disaster changes the landscape).

Make it Your Own

Conduct similar research on divergent evolution in humans.