Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spandrels

From Wikipedia:
Spandrel is a term used in evolutionary biology describing a phenotypic characteristic that is considered to have developed during evolution as a side-effect of an adaptation, rather than arising from natural selection.
That this term exists is a huge relief to me, since I've so often found myself trying to describe a spandrel to someone without knowing the word for it. An example of a spandrel is the navel: The adult navel does not have a clear function, but instead appears to be a byproduct of the umbilical cord. In contrast, the umbilical cord evolved for a specific purpose, and is therefor not a spandrel.

The word spandrel has great potential to leak into more general usages in everyday language. Instead of calling someone a scoundrel or a sphincter, you could say something like, "You spandrel! Who needs you around?"

Corrected: Thanks to Dr. Perfection for pointing out that "ambilical" is not a word.

2 Comments:

Anonymous dr perfection said...

ambilical is not a word, honey.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Mama JJ said...

I like the word and will use it (from?) henceforth.

9:08 AM  

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