|acquired characteristic (ə-kwīrd') Pronunciation Key
A nonhereditary change of function or structure in a plant or animal made in response to the environment. Acquired characteristics include bodily changes brought about by disease or by repeated use or disuse of a body part (as in the building or atrophy of muscle tissue). The heritability of acquired characteristics was advocated by certain biological theorists like Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and rejected by Charles Darwin in his formulation of the theory of evolution.
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