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synapomorphy Line breaks: syn¦apo|morphy
Pronunciation: /sɪˈnapə(ʊ)ˌmɔːfi/

Definition of synapomorphy in English:

noun (plural synapomorphies)

1A characteristic present in an ancestral species and shared exclusively (in more or less modified form) by its evolutionary descendants: the study of skulls of this primitive reptile has led to the discovery of numerous synapomorphies with turtles
More example sentences
  • The only known synapomorphy of this group is the presence of a sesamoid bone in the heel region.
  • But this is not very convincing, as it reveals only one valid synapomorphy.
  • Those specimens include conclusive evidence of the strongest possible bird-theropod synapomorphy - completely modern feathers and the oldest, most birdlike dromaeosaurs.
1.1 [mass noun] Possession by two or more organisms of a characteristic inherited exclusively from their common ancestor: synapomorphy delineates the relative status of particular features with respect to a specific evolutionary problem
More example sentences
  • The diagnosis of Glades through synapomorphy becomes the starting point for the investigation of functional, temporal, adaptive and biogeographic questions.
  • It is through cladistic analysis that we are able to tell homoplasy from synapomorphy.
  • Thus, when a SINE sequence is found at an orthologous locus in two or more lineages, it can be regarded as evidence for synapomorphy.


1960s: from syn- 'together' + apo- 'away from' + Greek morphē 'form'.

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