Definition of neoteny in English:

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Pronunciation: /niːˈɒt(ə)ni/


[mass noun] Zoology
1The retention of juvenile features in the adult animal. Also called paedomorphosis.
Example sentences
  • This is a classic example of an evolutionary phenomenon known as neoteny - the retention of larval or juvenile features in mature adults.
  • In fact Neo, as he has been named, suffers from a condition known as neoteny, where juvenile characteristics, like gills, are retained into adulthood.
  • Among early codiacrinids adaptive forms evolved initially through both neoteny and progenesis.
1.1The sexual maturity of an animal while it is still in a mainly larval state, as in the axolotl. Also called paedogenesis.
Example sentences
  • The acquisition of sexual maturity by an animal while still in the larval stage is a process that goes under the name neoteny.
  • Facultative neoteny also occurs in some species of true salamanders.



Pronunciation: /niːəˈtɛnɪk/
Example sentences
  • However, the young man can take advantage of the fact that older men are also of the generation before, who are less neotenic and look more like apes.
  • Direct-developing and normal biphasic frogs have slightly larger genomes, followed by biphasic, then direct-developing, and finally facultatively and then obligately neotenic salamanders.
  • Sermonti therefore argues that neotenic organisms - in which juvenile traits persist into adulthood, e.g. gills in adult salamanders - must be archaic, because their features appear earlier in development.


Example sentences
  • The literature suggest that the frequency of neotenous newts in a population could be as low as one in 1, 500.
  • Reisinger had suggested in 1960 that Xenoturbella might be derived from a neotenous deuterostome larva based on features of the nervous system, the enteropneust-like epidermis and the spermatozoa.
  • Thomas suggested that the noetiid ligament evolved from a ligament with outer chevrons only, as in Anadara antiquata, or the neotenous ligament of limopsids.


Late 19th century: from German Neotenie, from Greek neos 'new' (in the sense 'juvenile') + teinein 'extend'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: neot|eny

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