Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Living Fossil

Term used almost exclusively by lay persons to indicate:

1. a living species with a morphology similar to that of fossils of great age; indicative of a successful adaptation to an ancient niche, and the maintenance via natural selection of conservative traits that permit the species to flourish in that environment.

2. any species thought to be extinct, but subsequently found to be extant.

Cf. subfossil, fossil.

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