Understanding macroevolutionary dynamics of trait evolution is an important endeavor in evolutionary biology. Ecological opportunity can liberate a trait as it diversifies through trait space, while genetic and selective constraints can limit diversification. While many studies have examined the dynamics of morphological traits, diverse morphological traits may yield the same or similar performance and as performance is often more proximately the target of selection, examining only morphology may give an incomplete understanding of evolutionary dynamics. Here, we ask whether convergent evolution of pad-bearing lizards has followed similar evolutionary dynamics, or whether independent origins are accompanied by unique constraints and selective pressures over macroevolutionary time. We hypothesized that geckos and anoles each have unique evolutionary tempos and modes. Using performance data from 59 species, we modified Brownian motion (BM) and Ornstein–Uhlenbeck (OU) models to account for repeated origins estimated using Bayesian ancestral state reconstructions. We discovered that adhesive performance in geckos evolved in a fashion consistent with Brownian motion with a trend, whereas anoles evolved in bounded performance space consistent with more constrained evolution (an Ornstein–Uhlenbeck model). Our results suggest that convergent phenotypes can have quite distinctive evolutionary patterns, likely as a result of idiosyncratic constraints or ecological opportunities.

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Wiley: Green Access after embargo of 12-24 months. Ok for post-peer review to institutional archive: https://authorservices.wiley.com/author-resources/Journal-Authors/licensing/self-archiving.html