System Glossary
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Definition of Term

(English) A method used by systematists to determine evolutionary relationships. The distribution of shared derived characters (synapomorphies) is used to test relationships and taxa can thus only be defined by genealogy or descent. Relationships of taxa are presented as cladograms. The number of characters should be independent of one another so that they are not redundant (expressing the same character state in a different fashion, e.g. large eye and small snout may not be independent as a large eye in a head of uniform size may be larger at the expense of snout length). Each cladogram is a hypothesis subject to testing and rejection. Also called cladism or phylogenetic systematics. (See also: synapomorphy, cladogram)

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