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[al-trish-uh l] /ælˈtrɪʃ əl/
adjective, Zoology, (of an animal species)
helpless at birth or hatching and requiring parental care for a period of time (opposed to precocial)
Origin of altricial
1870-75; < Latin altrīc-, stem of altrīx wet nurse, nourisher (al(ere) to nourish (cf. aliment) + -trīx -trix) + -al1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for altricial
  • Nestlings are altricial and hatch asynchronously over several days.
British Dictionary definitions for altricial


(of the young of some species of birds after hatching) naked, blind, and dependent on the parents for food
an altricial bird, such as a pigeon
Compare precocial
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin altriciālis, from Latin altrix a nurse, from alere to nourish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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altricial in Science
Born or hatched in a helpless condition requiring prolonged parental care, as by being naked, blind, or unable to move about. Nesting birds, monotremes, marsupials, and carnivores have altricial young. Compare precocial.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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