Dictionary > Monophyletic



Of, pertaining to, about, or describing that which descended from a single ancestral species


The term is used to describe a phylum (or a group of taxa) in terms of evolutionary origin or phylogeny. Thus, the phrase “monophyletic group” pertains to a group of organisms (usually species) that are more closely related to each other than any other group. This, therefore, implies that they descended from a common ancestor. Typically, the monophyletic groups possess characteristics that they commonly share with one another as they inherited them from a common ancestor. Apomorphy (i.e. a derived trait) that is shared by two or more taxa and derived from the most recent common ancestor is referred to as synapomorphy. It is the basis used to define monophyly (i.e. a condition of being a clade). Synapomorphy identifies the most recent common ancestor of a monophyletic group in a cladogram (phylogenetic tree).

Other related terms are polyphyletic and paraphyletic. In particular, polyphyletic can be used to describe a group of organisms that descends from multiple ancestral lineages (thus, “poly”). Paraphyletic, in turn, is a term that may describe a group of organisms that does include some but not all of the descendants from the common ancestors. While monophyletic groups are based on synapomorphy, polyphyletic groups are based on convergence and paraphyletic groups,  in turn, are based on symplesiomorphy.

An example of a monophyletic group is one that is comprised of humans, apes, and new world monkeys, as they share the most common recent ancestral group, which is the old-world monkeys.



See also:
• Phylogenetic

You will also like...

Sugar Homeostasis
Sugar Homeostasis

The blood sugar level is regulated by two hormones. The mechanism behind this type of negative feedback control is descr..

Pink Lotus plant on a pond
Freshwater Lentic Communities & Animals

This tutorial looks at some of the communities in freshwater lentic habitats. For instance, symbiosis occurs in a commun..

human respiratory system

The human respiratory system is an efficient system of inspiring and expiring respiratory gases. This tutorial provides ..

Control of body movement
Control of Body Movement

Some of the body movements can be controlled at will, others cannot. The body has a motor program, which is the pattern ..

Fossil trilobite imprint in the sediment

There are more species of insects than any other species combined. This surely illustrates that insects have the selecti..

Schematic diagram of DNA replication
DNA Structure & DNA Replication

DNA is a double helix structure comprised of nucleotides. A nucleotide, in turn, is made up of phosphate molecule, deoxy..