800px-Colored Feathers (3740308199)

Colorful feathers which are an example of an exaptation from insulation to aid in flying

What is an Exaptation?Edit

Exaptations are characteristics that serve as a beneficial function for a species, but were not originally designed for their current use.  Exaptations can be either types of behavior or physical characterisits developed over time.  The functions of exaptations do not perform the intended fuction they were originally designed for, unlike adaptations which specifically develop through natural selection through evolution for the purpose it performs.  


Futuyma, F.J. 2009. Evolution. 2nd Ed. Chapter 11. Retrieved from 

Examples of ExaptationsEdit

  • Feather's orignal use for insulation, then exapted for use in flight
    Elephant Ear-flapping00:18

    Elephant Ear-flapping

    An elephant flapping it's ears to cool itself off

  • Lungs of the Basal fish underwent exaptation into the gas bladder, serving a new purpose
  • Elephant's ears serve a secondary purpose of radiating heat from their body through blood vessels and flapping their ears to cool themselves
  • Elephant's trunk has been exapted from just a nose to serve purposes of extra appendage, drink with, and breathe through while swimming in deep waters

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