Genetics play a very significant role in parallel evolution -- the development of similar characteristics of two species in different locations -- because a species' genetic code contains the information for many potential traits that the organism may not have developed. A jellyfish, for example, has a radial body shape -- it has no right or left side. That jellyfish also has the genetic code in its cells for a bilateral body shape. That's why it is possible for two species that are widely different and widely separated to evolve such similar traits when exposed to similar environments.
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