Meaning of exaptation in English:


Pronunciation /ˌɛksapˈteɪʃn/


mass noun
  • 1Biology
    The process by which features acquire functions for which they were not originally adapted or selected.

    ‘At present, then, there is no way we can come up with any even modestly convincing scenario of what happened in the origination of the extraordinary creature we are without invoking the humble process of exaptation.’
    • ‘Although such a scenario has been predicted this demonstrates for the first time that Alu elements can also induce exaptation of intronic sequences as parts of novel alternative exons that are located outside of the respective elements.’
    • ‘One problem with this criticism is that it ignores exaptation, the adaptation of a trait originally developed for one function to some other function.’
    • ‘This causes exaptation to be rendered solely as an adaptationist concept.’
    • ‘It was shown that information present in overt behaviors may be underutilized, and that exaptation of sensor mechanisms for preference formation can bring about the utilization of that information.’
    1. 1.1count noun A character or feature which evolved by the process of exaptation.
      ‘In figure 5 we summarize the integration times and events leading to potential exaptations for the four analyzed genes as well as those for the previously published locus, p75TNFR.’
      • ‘Thanks to you, O Reader, I now know that evolved elements pressed into service in some other context are exaptations.’
      • ‘The only scientific way to approach why flight evolved in a group is to first figure out how it evolved; what the temporal sequence of exaptations and adaptations was.’
      • ‘Do biochemical exaptations link evolution of plant defense and pollination systems?’
      • ‘On the other hand, Gould claims that our species-specific traits are more likely exaptations.’
      • ‘Their usual response is to say that it's minor, just a gloss, exaptations are rare, they're just nooks and crannies, they're not important.’


1980s from ex- + aptation as in adaptation.