Definition of saltation
1a : the action or process of leaping or jumpingb : dance
2a : the origin of a new species or a higher taxon in essentially a single evolutionary step that in some especially former theories is held to be due to a major mutation — compare darwinism, neo-darwinism, punctuated equilibriumb : mutation —used especially of bacteria and fungi
saltation was our Word of the Day on 05/09/2015. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
Saltation comes from Latin, deriving ultimately from the verb salire, meaning "to leap." Etymologists think it meant "leap" or "jump" when it was first used in English, too, but documented evidence of early use in that sense is scarce. Instead, the oldest manuscripts containing the word (which date from the 1620s) show it used as a synonym of "dancing." The first recorded incidence of the "leaping" sense dates from 1646, when British physician and author Sir Thomas Browne used it in an entomological context: "Locusts ... being ordained for saltation, their hinder legs doe far exceed the other." The word made the leap to evolutionary theory in the late 19th century.
Medical Definition of saltation
1: the origin of a new species or a higher taxon in essentially a single evolutionary step that in some especially former theories is held to be due to macromutation
2: mutation—used especially of bacteria and fungi
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