Behavioral and Brain Sciences



Short Communication

Use of phylogenetic analysis to distinguish adaptation from exaptation


Daniel G. Blackburn a1
a1 Department of Biology, Life Sciences Center, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 06106 daniel.blackburn@trincoll.edu http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~blackbur/

Abstract

One important difference between adaptive and nonadaptive explanations can be found in the evolutionary sequence of structural and functional modifications. Phylogenetic analysis (cladistics) provides a powerful methodology for distinguishing exaptation from adaptation, by indicating whether character traits have predated, accompanied, or followed evolution of particular functions. Such analysis yields falsifiable hypotheses that can help to distinguish causal relationships from mere correlation.



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