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atavism (noun) resemblance between people of the present generation of a family, and those of distant past generation, rather than that between the members of two successive generations; possession by the present generation of the same characteristics which the earliest humans had.

If a person of the present generation resembles the members of the family of many generations ago, and not their parents, such resemblance is atavism. Our possession of the same traits, feelings, and attitudes of the earliest humans is also atavism.

  • The human beings' tendency to bite and claw when they attack others appears to be an atavism of their earliest ancestors who had to bite and claw in the absence of weapons.
  • Atavism is evident both in animal and plant species, because, in spite of evolution, the traits of the original members continue to occur in later generations, though less remarkably.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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