adaptive radiation

noun

: evolutionary diversification of a generalized ancestral form with production of a number of adaptively specialized forms

Examples of adaptive radiation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Maritime species outnumbered those on land by six-to-one, and the adaptive radiation that existed on land didn’t exist at depth and had slowed the evolutionary processes, granting biologists like her a glimpse into ancient evolutionary patterns. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 9 Feb. 2024 The lizards have spread across the Caribbean through a process called adaptive radiation. Quanta Magazine, 2 Jan. 2024 In my opinion, this shows that the adaptive radiation of birds was under way long before Archaeopteryx, says Feduccia. Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, 10 Feb. 2021 Such intense diversification is indicative of what biologists call an adaptive radiation, which occurs when many new species rapidly proliferate from an ancestor, changing aspects of their appearance and behavior to take advantage of new environments or opportunities. Steve Brusatte, Scientific American, 1 June 2022 Origins of female genital diversity: Predation risk and lock-and-key explain rapid divergence during an adaptive radiation. Elizabeth Preston, Discover Magazine, 25 Aug. 2015 This fact confirmed for the researchers that Tanganyika’s cichlids were ideal subjects for testing ideas about adaptive radiation — an evolutionary event in which many diverse species emerge rapidly and adapt to new environmental niches. Quanta Magazine, 1 Dec. 2020 Evolutionary theorists have two models for how adaptive radiation might play out. Quanta Magazine, 1 Dec. 2020 This adaptive radiation played out most dramatically in Mexico and Central America, where about 40 percent of all the world's oaks reside. Andrew L. Hipp, Scientific American, 15 July 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adaptive radiation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1898, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adaptive radiation was in 1898

Dictionary Entries Near adaptive radiation

Cite this Entry

“Adaptive radiation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adaptive%20radiation. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition

adaptive radiation

noun
: evolutionary diversification of a generalized ancestral form with production of a number of adaptively specialized forms

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