Dictionary > Apomorphy


noun, plural: apomorphies
A derived trait distinct to a certain species or group in a phylogenetic tree down to its descendant. Any amount of change denotes the basis of taxonomy since each group of animal have a unique character and if most likely showed various apomorphies entails the nearest related links.
An apomorphy that is limited to a single species is termed an autapomorphy. Any associations of these single species cannot provide exact information though it point out the level of divergence from its nearest links.
This is an evolutionary innovation thus it is a concept which has meaning only in a particular framework that shows evidence for the existence of a group attributes in a shared common evolutionary history.
The vertebral column is an apomorphy of vertebrates.
Having five fingers is a derived trait among the vertebrates, as the last common ancestor of the vertebrates did not even have fingers.
The feathers are unique to birds and define all members of the class Aves.
Another example is speech, which is found exclusively in humans and not in other primates.
Word Origin: apo= “away from”+ morph= “shape

See also:

  • cladistics
  • Related terms:

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