(binomial, meaning “two names”) In taxonomy, the convention established by Carolus Linnaeus whereby genus and species names are used to refer to species. For example, Homo sapiens refers to human beings.
A biological continuum. When expressions of a phenomenon continuously grade into one another so that there are no discrete categories, they exist on a continuum. Color is one such phenomenon, and life-forms are another.
The view that the earth’s geological landscape is the result of violent cataclysmic events. Cuvier promoted this view, especially in opposition to Lamarck.
Adherents to a movement in American Protestantism that began in the early twentieth century. This group holds that the teachings of the Bible are infallible and that the scriptures are to be taken literally.
The ability to conceive and produce healthy offspring.
Pertaining to natural selection, a measure of the relative reproductive success of individuals. Fitness can be measured by an individual’s genetic contribution to the next generation compared with that of other individuals. The terms genetic fitness, reproductive fitness, and differential reproductive success are also used.
Fixity of Species
The notion that species, once created, can never change; an idea diametrically opposed to theories of biological evolution.
The entire genetic makeup of an individual or species. In humans, it’s estimated that each individual possesses approximately 3 billion DNA bases.
The most critical mechanism of evolutionary change, first described by Charles Darwin; refers to genetic change or changes in the frequencies of certain traits in populations due to differential reproductive success between individuals.
The number of offspring an individual produces and rears to reproductive age; an individual’s genetic contribution to the next generation.
Pertaining to groups of organisms that, mainly because of genetic differences, are prevented from mating and producing offspring with members of other such groups. For example, dogs cannot mate and produce offspring with cats.
Forces in the environment that influence reproductive success in individuals.
The branch of science concerned with the rules of classifying organisms on the basis of evolutionary relationships.
The theory that the earth’s features are the result of long-term processes that continue to operate in the present just as they did in the past. Elaborated on by Lyell, this theory opposed catastrophism and contributed strongly to the concept of immense geological time.
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