Exaptation 1 documentation03:15

Exaptation 1 documentation

Expatation is defined as "a character that retains its plesiomorphic (ancestral) form while taking on a new function." (Mclennan, 2008) The term was first used in 1982 by Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba (Parry, 2013)

McLennan, D. (June 2008). The Concept of Co-option: Why Evolution Often Looks Miraculous.  Evolution Education Outreach, 1:247-258

Parry, W. (2013) Evolution as opportunist. Quanta Magazine. Retrieved from


Bird feathers are a good example of an exaptation. Originally believed to assist with thermoregualtion, feathers now also have the added function of helping birds create lift for the ability to fly. In this example, "the form of the feather is an an adaptation for insulation and an exaptation for flight." (Berkeley, 2006)

A second example of an exaptation is the order and arrangement of the bones in the limbs of terrestrial quadrupeds. The original evolutionary purpose of these limbs was for swimming in water, but were later used for walking when life moved to land. (Parry, 2013)

University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science. (2006). Exaptation. 9-13-13, from

Parry, W. (2013) Evolution as opportunist. Quanta Magazine. Retrieved from

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