evolutionary biology, a synapomorphy is a derived character stateshared by two or more terminal groups (taxa included in a cladistic analysisas further indivisible units) and inherited from their most recent common ancestor.
"Derived" in this case means that "its" ancestor again is lacking it — so it is a derived (new) character-state, or
apomorphy, originating in their last common ancestor. Consider species "A" and "B", their common ancestor "C", and "C" 's ancestor "D". If "A" and "B" have trait "X", and "C" did as well, but "D" did not, then "X" is a synapomorphy: a shared derived (new) character-state, or apomorphy, originating in A and B's last common ancestor, C. True synapomorphies usually uniquely characterise a given set of terminal groups, but this is not essential to the concept. In cladistics, synapomorphies are used to establish phylogenies. As such they are empirical data which can support a certain hypothesis that terminal groups form a clade( monophyleticgroup) together to the exclusion of certain other groups, whereas character-states that are shared, but also shared by other terminal groups descending from an earlier common ancestor, cannot be used to exclude these other groups. The latter character-states can consist of symplesiomorphies ("primitive" character-states having originated in the earlier common ancestor) or homoplasies (superficially similar but independently evolved derived character-states).
The synapomorphy is thus opposed to both the symplesiomorphy and the homoplasy. Rather uncontroversial examples of these three are:
Halteres, the uniquely modified hind wings, in all families of winged Diptera. No other group of insects possesses similar structures. However, that all winged Diptera would have the trait and no other group would, is not essential to its being a synapomorphy. It only means that it is easier to determine it is one.
* Symplesiomorphy: Five toes on the hind legs in rats and apes. This character-state originated very early in
Tetrapoda, occurs in other tetrapod groups, e.g. in lizards, and is thus no indication that the group formed of rats and apes is a clade to the exclusion of these other groups.
Homoiothermyin birds and mammals. This trait is a derived character-state (in relation to poikilothermy, the character-state of the last common ancestor of both groups) evolved independently in these two groups (or at least in the larger clades to which these groups belong).
The key problem is to identify the polarity of the
transformation seriesto which several character-states belong, i.e. to tell which character-state is apomorphic and which plesiomorphic. To polarise the transformation series in earlier cladistics various criteria were used; however in the recent two decades the pattern criteria based on outgroup comparisondominate the field.
The concepts of apomorphy and plesiomorphy are relative to a certain level of generality. What counts as an apomorphy at one level of generality may well be a plesiomorphy at the other. E.g., for rats and apes, the presence of five toes on their legs is a symplesiomorphy, but for Tetrapoda in general it might be a synapomorphy.
It is not essential to a synapomorphy that all members of a clade possess it; even if some would have secondarily lost the trait it could still be a synapomorphy of the clade as a whole. A character state that is a synapomorphy for a clade, but for lineages in this clade is a plesiomorphy that is altered in some lineages, is called underlying synapomorphy. If no
stem grouptaxa are known, it is sometimes difficult to decide which character state is the underlying synapomorphy and which the autapomorphythat overlies it.
Clades are not defined by synapomorphies as such, though it is possible to define them by apomorphies in general.
The word synapomorphy is derived from the Greek words "Polytonic|σύν", "syn" = with, in company with, together with, "Polytonic|ἀπό", "apo" = away from and "Polytonic|μορφή", "morphe" = shape.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
synapomorphy — Shared derived character state that unites two or more members of a monophyletic group, e.g. the presence of a glandular collar at the leaflet base is a synapomorphy for a monophyletic group comprising Zamia macrochiera and Z. manicata; a… … Expanded glossary of Cycad terms
synapomorphy — noun (plural phies) Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary syn + apomorphy derived evolutionary trait or feature (from apo + morphy) Date: 1965 a character or trait that is shared by two or more taxonomic groups and is derived through… … New Collegiate Dictionary
synapomorphy — a character shared by two or more organisms or groups and inherited from an immediately preceding or recent common ancestor (shared derived character). Diagnoses a clade or monophyletic group … Dictionary of ichthyology
synapomorphy — n. [Gr. syn, together; apo, separate; morphe, form] The sharing of derived characters by several species; see plesiomorphy … Dictionary of invertebrate zoology
synapomorphy — noun A derived trait that is shared by two or more taxa of shared ancestry Ant: plesiomorphy … Wiktionary
synapomorphy — syn·ap·o·mor·phy … English syllables
synapomorphy — … Useful english dictionary
Cladistics — For the scientific journal, see Cladistics (journal). Part of a series on Evolutionary Biology … Wikipedia
nature, philosophy of — Introduction the discipline that investigates substantive issues regarding the actual features of nature as a reality. The discussion here is divided into two parts: the philosophy of physics and the philosophy of biology. In this… … Universalium
Oryzomys — Temporal range: Rancholabrean (300,000 years before present) – present Marsh rice rat (Oryzomys palustris) Scientific classification Kingdom … Wikipedia