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Terms for Chapter 10

TermDefinition
Evolution The process of change by which new species develop from preexisting species over time; at the genetic level, the process in which inherited characteristics within populations change over time; the process defined by Darwin as "descent with modification"
Species A group of organisms that are closely related and can mate to produce fertile offspring
Fossil The trace or remains of an organism that lived long ago, most commonly preserved in sedimentary rock
Catastrophism Theory that states that natural disasters such as floods and volcanic eruptions shaped Earth's landforms and caused extinction of some species
Gradualism a model of evolution in which gradual change over a long period of time leads to biological diversity homologous structures body part that is similar in structure on different organisms but performs different functions analogous structures body pa
Uniformitarianism theory that states that the geologic processes that shape Earth are uniform through time
variation differences in physical traits of an individual from the group to which it belongs
Adaptation the process of becoming adapted to an environment; an anatomical, physiological, or behavioral change that improves a population's ability to survive
artificial selection the human practice of breeding animals or plants that have certain desired traits
heritability ability of a trait to be passed from one generation to the next
natural selection process by which individuals that are better adapted to their environment survive and reproduce most successfully than less well adapted individuals
population a group of organisms of the same species populating a given area
fitness measure of an organism's ability to survive and produce offspring relative to other members of a population
Biogeography study of the geographic distribution of living organisms and fossils on Earth