Also found in: Dictionary, Medical, Wikipedia.


Possession by an organism or group of organisms, specialized to one mode of life, of characters which favor easy adaptation to a new environment.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the ability of an organism to adapt prior in time to some change in its interaction with the environment; also, the ability of an organ to adapt to some change in its functions before the change occurs. The process of acquiring preadaptive characteristics is also called preadaptation.

The concept of preadaptation was introduced in 1911 by the French scientist L. Cuénot and later developed by the American biologists G. Simpson (1944) and W. Bock (1959–65) and the German scientist G. Osche (1962). Unlike Cuénot, later scientists emphasized the role of natural selection in the development of new adaptations by means of preadaptation.

The preadaptive state is not spontaneously caused by chance mutations but results from the adaptive evolution of a former function of a given organ. The preadaptive state is a chance by-product of evolutionary changes controlled by natural selection, which ensure more effective performance of the functions previously carried out by the organ. For example, in the evolution of the oldest vertebrates, jaws developed from the anterior gill arch after it divided into movable parts because of intensified respiration. Thus, the improvement of the gill “pump” preadapted the development of the jaws. The theory of preadaptation makes it possible to understand the functional change that occurs during organic evolution.

A species’ assimilation of a qualitative new habitat is possible only after the organism has acquired characteristics in the former habitat as preadaptations that enable it to survive in these new conditions. Thus, preadaptation is a universal mechanism for redirecting an organ’s evolution. Postadaptation occurs after an organ has acquired a new function perfected in the course of natural selection.


Simpson, G. G. Tempy i formy evoliutsii. Moscow, 1948. (Translated from English.)
Iordanskii, N. N. “Teoriia preadaptatsii i ee znachenie dlia ponimaniia rasshireniia i smeny funktsii organov v evoliutsii.” In the collection Nekotorye problemy teorii evoliutsii. Moscow, 1973.
Georgievskii, A. B. Problema preadaptatsii: Istoriko-kriticheskoe issledovanie. Leningrad, 1974.
Bock, W. J. “Preadaptation and Multiple Evolutionary Pathways.” Evolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution. 1959, vol. 13, no. 2.
Osche, G. “Das Praeadaptationsphänomen und seine Bedeutung fur die Evolution.” Zoologischer Anzeiger, 1962, vol. 169, issues 1–2.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
When the nucleotide sequences of the preadaptation, CEE, BGM-70 adapted, and reference isolates were translated to amino acids, the putative motifs identifying vvIBDV pathotypes were seen revealing isoleucine (I) at positions 242, 256, and 294 and serine (S) at position 299 (Figure 8).
Despite the fact that yeast cells demonstrated non-linear dose response to ethanol (Figure 2), we did not observe any stimulatory effect by ethanol preadaptation on colony growth of yeast under stressful conditions (Figure 5).
Comparing the saccade gain during the preadaptation and postadaptation phases, we found a significant decrease in eight out of the ten subjects in the nonsalient condition.
The design problem, in effect, was an opportunity (a preadaptation) for a mosaic solution to emerge.
JORDAN, Terry G., "Presidential Address: Preadaptation and European Colonization in Rural North America", en Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol.
"Evolutionary Preadaptation and Cultural Development of Fiction." Evolution and Cultural Psychology 3: 179-94.
At the level of the firm, this leads to what Winter calls 'preadaptation', wherein a firm's decisions about products and business lines are essentially made for it because its choices are so constrained by its existing distribution of ideas.
Spittlebug nymphs (Homoptera: Cercopidae) in Heliconia flowers (Zingiberales: Heliconiaceae): Preadaptation and evolution of the first aquatic Homoptera.
Rozin & April Fallon, The Psychological Categorization of Foods and Non-Foods: A Preliminary Taxonomy of Food Rejections, 1 APPETITE 193 (1980); Paul Rozin, Jonathan Haidt, Clark McCauley & Sumio Imada, Disgust: Preadaptation and the Cultural Evolution of a Food-Based Emotion, in FOOD PREFERENCES AND TASTE: CONTINUITY AND CHANGE 65 (Helen Macbeth ed., 1997).
A third concept is preadaptation. This idea was introduced by Newton (1974, p.
* Preadaptation: In theory, you can offset the potential difference in your body clock by changing bedtime before you leave.