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(klədĭs`tĭks) or

phylogenetic systematics

(fī'lōjənĕt`ĭk), an approach to the classificationclassification,
in biology, the systematic categorization of organisms into a coherent scheme. The original purpose of biological classification, or systematics, was to organize the vast number of known plants and animals into categories that could be named, remembered, and
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 of living things in which organisms are defined and grouped by the possession of one or more shared characteristics (called characters) that are derived from a common ancestor and that were not present in any ancestral group (as envisioned by Charles DarwinDarwin, Charles Robert,
1809–82, English naturalist, b. Shrewsbury; grandson of Erasmus Darwin and of Josiah Wedgwood. He firmly established the theory of organic evolution known as Darwinism.
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's idea of "descent with modification"). Developed by Willi Hennig, a German entomologist, in the 1950s, it is a method of reconstructing evolutionary relationships that emphasizes the importance of descent and common ancestry rather than chronology.

Cladistics places species in a group, or clade, based on a shared character. Within a clade, species that share other characters unique to them are grouped together, and so on, until a cladogram (a branching diagram that resembles a family tree) is assembled. For example, all vertebrates make up a clade; all tetrapods (vertebrates that have four limbs with wrists, ankles, toes, and fingers) form their own clade within the vertebrate clade. In this example the vertebrate clade would be considered "primitive" and the tetrapod clade "derived" or "advanced." In living creatures genetic characters or behaviors as well as more obvious anatomical features might be considered in assembling a cladogram. In paleontologypaleontology
[Gr.,= study of early beings], science of the life of past geologic periods based on fossil remains. Knowledge of the existence of fossils dates back at least to the ancient Greeks, who appear to have regarded them as the remains of various mythological creatures.
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 the characters are necessarily skeletal.

Cladistics is especially significant in paleontology, as it points out gaps in the fossil evidence. It is also felt to be more objective than fossil study, which of necessity extrapolates from a limited number of finds that may or may not be representative of the whole.

See also fossilfossil,
remains or imprints of plants or animals preserved from prehistoric times by the operation of natural conditions. Fossils are found in sedimentary rock, asphalt deposits, and coal and sometimes in amber and certain other materials.
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; datingdating,
the determination of the age of an object, of a natural phenomenon, or of a series of events. There are two basic types of dating methods, relative and absolute.
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Biology a method of grouping animals that makes use of lines of descent rather than structural similarities
References in periodicals archive ?
The ideas of symplesiomorphy, apomorphy, and homoplasy were not features of earlier attempts at a natural system: lists of resemblances were the tool employed, and relationship was judged on the basis on numbers of similarities rather than what character states they represented.
Seticornuta clearly differs from Leurus by the weakly concave margin of clypeus, exposing the labrum (an apomorphy of the genus) and the slender mandible, without a basal lobe (Figure 1).
Potentially, a partially fused T6 and protandrium may be an apomorphy of Pachycerina, or at least a subclade of the genus.
They also state that the karyotypic distinction of Sylvisorex megalura may represent a relatively recent apomorphy.
The other uses of "specialization"--evolution, adaptation, apomorphy, or uncommon features--are synonyms of existing terms or are simply vague.
The dramatic remodeling of the free-living larva into the sessile, tentacle-bearing adult constitutes an entoproct apomorphy and obscures the shared characters with Mollusca, thus impeding the immediate recognition of Tetraneuralia.
Coddington's (1988) proposed test relies upon the central assumption that the apomorphic and plesiomorphic characters borne by sister taxa in current environments have equivalent selective consequences relative to their counterparts in the ancestral population in which the apomorphy first arose.
Because we do not have access to a diverse set of planktotrophs from additional taxa, we cannot yet determine whether the ADL is present and functions similarly to lytechinids in enough taxa to distinguish between an echinoid apomorphy and that of smaller clades such as Toxopneustidae + Echinometridae.
They present an anterior branchial cluster as the only non-homoplastic morphological apomorphy to support the Poeobius/Flota/flabelligerid clade.
The types of definitions permitted in phylogenetic nomenclature basically fall into three categories: node-based definitions, stem-based definitions, and apomorphy definitions.
The first one is a name defined by specifying a phylogenetic definition (node based, stem based, or apomorphy based) and by designating two (or more) specifiers to refer to a particular taxon (or clade) under a particular phylogenetic hypothesis (or cladogram).