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paraphyletic

adjective

composed of some but not all members descending from a common ancestor

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paraphyletic in Science
paraphyletic
  (pār'ə-fī-lět'ĭk)   
Relating to a taxonomic group that includes some but not all of the descendants of a common ancestor. In the traditional taxonomy of vertebrates, where fish are a separate class from the classes of terrestrial vertebrates, the class of fish is paraphyletic, since the terrestrial vertebrates are descended from a type of fish. Compare monophyletic, polyphyletic.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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