Biology Ch. 15

radiometric dating
a method for determining the age of fossils and rocks from the ratio of a radioactive isotope to the nonradioactive isotope(s) of the same element in the sample

continental drift
a change in the position of continents resulting from the incessant slow movement (floating) of the plates of Earth’s crust on the underlying molten mantle; it has caused continents to fuse and break apart periodically throughout geologic history

Pangaea
the supercontinent consisting of all the major landmasses of Earth fused together; continental drift created this near the end of the Paleozoic era

plate tectonics
geologic processes, such as continental drift, volcanoes, and earthquakes, resulting from plate movements

phylogeny
the evolutionary history of a group of organisms

convergent evolution
adaptive change resulting in nonhomologous (analogous) similarities among organisms; species from different evolutionary lineages come to resemble each other (evolve

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analogous structures) as a result of living in very similar environments

analogy
the similarity of structure between two species that are not closely related; attributable to convergent evolution

systematics
an analytical approach to the study of the diversity of life and the evolutionary relationships between organisms

binomial
a two-part, latinized name of a species; for example, Homo sapiens (normally italicized)

genus
in classification, the taxonomic category above species; the first part of a species’ binomial; for example, Homo

species
a group whose members possess similar anatomical characteristics and have the ability to interbreed

family
in classification, the taxonomic category above genus

order
in classification, the taxonomic category above family

class
in classification, the taxonomic category above order

phylum
in classification, the taxonomic category above class and below kingdom; members of these all have a similar general body plan

kingdom
in classification, the broad taxonomic category above phylum or division

domain
a taxonomic category above the kingdom level; the three of these of life are Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya

taxon
a proper name, such as phylum Chordata, class Mammalia, or Homo sapiens, in the taxonomic hierarchy used to classify organisms

phylogenetic tree
a branching diagram that represents a hypothesis about evolutionary relationships between organisms

cladistics
the study of evolutionary history; specifically, the scientific search for monophyletic taxa (clades), taxonomic groups composed of an ancestor and all its descendants

clades
evolutionary branches that consist of an ancestor and all its descendants

monophyletic
pertaining to a taxon derived from a single ancestral species that gave rise to no species in any other taxa

shared derived characters
homologous features that have changed from a primitive (ancestral) condition and that are unique to an evolutionary lineage; features found in members of a lineage but not found in ancestors of the lineage

shared primitive characters
homologous features found in members of a lineage and also in the ancestors of the lineage; ancestral features

cladogram
a diagram depicting patterns of shared characteristics among species

ingroup
in a cladistic study of evolutionary relationships among taxa of organisms, the group of taxa that is actually being analyzed

outgroup
in a cladistic study of evolutionary relationships among taxa of organisms, a taxon or group of taxa with a known relationship to, but not a member of, the taxa being studied

parsimony
in scientific studies, the search for the least complex explanation for an observed phenomenon

molecular systematics
comparing nucleic acids or other molecules to infer relatedness

molecular clock
evolutionary timing method based on the observation that at least some regions of genomes evolve at constant rates

five-kingdom system
the system of taxonomic classification based on five basic groups: Monera, Protista, Plantae, Fungi, and Animalia

three-domain system
the system of taxonomic classification based on three basic groups: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya

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