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  • Writer's pictureJúlia Raíces

Words I love! (And what they mean)

You know those words that sound funny? Or that have a really cool meaning? Or just words that you like for no particular reason? So, today's post is about that! Here is a list of the words I like the most and their meanings! If you want to know more about why I like them and how they relate to each other, how about listening to my podcast? There are one or two episodes just about these amazing words!

But without further ado, here is my list of loveable words:

  1. science: the use of evidence to try to understand and predict the world. systematized knowledge from experiments, observations, and other studies, as well as the methods used to acquire such knowledge.

  2. hypotheses: a proposed explanation for a fact or phenomenon, based on scientific knowledge, that can be tested, verified, and falsified. by definition they must be falsifiable.

  3. theories: a scientific explanation that has been tested and verified, is widely accepted by the scientific community, and helps to explain and predict the world, its phenomena, and its processes.

  4. intelligent design: creationism, i.e. a religious explanation for how species were created.

  5. geologic time: the time scale used to describe events throughout the history of the earth - from its formation to the present day.

  6. molecular clock: the theory that the changes that occur in the genome of a species have a constant rate of mutation. According to this theory we can calculate the time since two species diverged from a common ancestor from the differences between their molecules. It is a form of phylogenetic inference.

  7. in vivo: experiments performed using living organisms to analyze the effects of something on them.

  8. in vitro: experiments performed on cells or tissues.

  9. in silico: experiments done using computers and simulations.

  10. empirical: determined by experiments.

  11. induction: the process of arriving at general principles from particular facts.

  12. inference: a conclusion drawn according to the interpretation of evidence.

  13. ecological niche: specific micro-habitat of a population or organisms. It depends on the habits of the species, its food sources, predators, and more.

  14. symbiosis: a beneficial relationship for all species/organisms involved, in which the organisms live in an inextricably linked way.

  15. species: groups of individuals that can interbreed and have fertile and viable offspring.

  16. holotype: a physical example or illustration that has been used to describe a species and thus is the reference for that species.

  17. evolution: change in hereditary characteristics over time

  18. mutation: a change in the genetic material that leads to a new variant; changes in the sequence of DNA bases in the genome of an organism, or changes in the structure or number of chromosomes.

  19. convergent evolution: evolution of two or more species from different groups but leading to similar structures or characteristics.

  20. macroevolution: evolution on large time scales, usually geologic time, leading to the origin of new species and larger biological groups.

  21. microevolution: changes in organism groups that do not lead to the formation of a new species.

  22. clade or monophyletic groups: with an ancestor common to all species in the group and where all species from that common ancestor belong to this group.

  23. paraphyletic groups: when all species in the group have a common ancestor, but not all species descended from that common ancestor are in the group.

  24. polyphyletic groups: a group of species that have more than one common ancestor and the ancestor common to all species in the most recent group is not part of the group.

  25. cladogram or phylogenetic tree: diagram showing how species or groups are related

  26. adaptive radiation: a rapid expansion and diversification in the evolution of a group of organisms as they fill new ecological niches.

  27. phylogeny: the study of evolutionary relationships and connections between species.

  28. phylum: a comprehensive level of biological classification.

  29. systematics: the practice and theory of classifying living things according to their evolutionary histories and relationships.

  30. genetic distance: differences in the frequency and genetic structure of species in order to create their phylogenies.

  31. fitness: the reproductive and survival success of a phenotype or genotype according to its genetic contribution to future generations

  32. survival of the fittest: it means that the organisms that most commonly survive and reproduce over the long term will be those that have characteristics that make them most able to survive and reproduce in that environment.

  33. adaptation: a change to fit a niche or survive in an environment. these changes may be physiological, behavioral, or anatomical/structural.

  34. exaptation: a process by which structures develop functions for which they were not originally selected.

  35. apomorphy: a characteristic that is unique to a group or species.

  36. synapomorphy: a shared apomorphy.

  37. cheek: a synapomorphy of Therian that allows sucking.

  38. therian: the largest group of mammals, including marsupials and placental mammals.

  39. monotremes: basal (evolutionarily) egg-laying mammals.

  40. platypus: Ornithorhynchus anatinus. One of only 3 species of monotremes alive today.

  41. primitive: basal form of a structure or characteristic. It is as evolved as the more derived forms.

  42. stromatolites: sedimentary rocks formed by the action of cyanobacteria. they are common in the fossil record and show the existence of photosynthesis 1.25 billion years ago, and are also evidence of the first forms of life on earth.

  43. trilobite: an extinct marine arthropod, but very common in the fossil record from the Cambrian to the Permian. They had flattened oval bodies subdivided into head, thorax, and abdomen. They had a hard and resistant carapace, antennae, and several legs.

  44. prokaryote: an organism made of the simplest type of cell which does not have membrane-bound organelles.

  45. eukaryotic: organism with cells that have a nucleus and other organelles enclosed by membranes

  46. organelles: cellular subunit with specific function.

  47. analogy: structures that are similar in form, function, or both, but do not have a unique origin.

  48. homology: a structure or characteristic shared by a series of species because it was present in the common ancestor of these species.

  49. evolutionary bottleneck: a dramatic decrease in the genetic diversity of a population or species due to an ecological catastrophe.

  50. founder effect: the effect on a population due to a small initial population size that leads to a low and/or specific genetic variety even after the population has increased in size.

  51. genetic drift: evolution or change in allele frequencies due to random processes. It is most common in small populations.

  52. speciation: the emergence of a new species from an earlier species.

  53. allopatric speciation: a speciation that occurs when groups of the ancestral species do not occupy the same geographical space, so that they cannot interbreed.

  54. sympatric specie: specie that occurs when the species that are differentiating share the same geographic space.

  55. reproductive isolation: occurs when two groups or individuals are not able to interbreed and produce viable and fertile offspring.

  56. prezygotic isolation: a form of reproductive isolation that avoids successful mating and therefore does not generate any zygotes.

  57. postzygotic isolation: a form of reproductive isolation that leads to the formation of a zygote, but either does not develop or produces an infertile adult.

  58. selective pressure: abiotic or biotic environmental forces that lead to better survival of some phenotypes at the expense of others.

  59. natural selection: different survival and reproduction among organisms due to a characteristic of the organism or the environment.

  60. artificial selection: the selection of characteristics by humans

  61. sexual selection: selection related to mating or intercourse between members of the same sex via competition and between members of different sexes occurs via choice (usually the choice of the female). This type of selection leads to an increase in the number of offspring of the selected organism but not necessarily in its survivability.

  62. frequency dependent selection: selection when the fitness of a phenotype or genotype depends on how common it is in the population.

  63. group selection: selection that operates on the group level and not the individual level. selects for characteristics beneficial to the group as a whole when competing with other groups.

  64. vestigial structures: structures that seem to have no more function in an organism. In general they are reduced.

  65. genetic code: the relationship between the codons (trios of nucleotides) and the amino acids they code for.

  66. DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid. A biological molecule which forms long chains and stores genetic information.

  67. RNA: ribonucleic acid. A molecule similar to DNA, which also forms strings which contain genetic information. RNA can be used to produce proteins and/or to catalyze reactions in the cell.

  68. nucletide: the basic unit of DNA and RNA. They are molecules composed of a sugar, a phosphate chain, and a nitrogenous base.

  69. amino acids: the organic molecules that make up proteins. There are 20 different amino acids that can be combined to form any protein.

  70. alleles: are the varieties of a gene. alleles occupy the same region of chromosomes and govern the same trait, but can lead to different forms of that trait, e.g. green peas or yellow peas.

  71. codon: a sequence of 3 nucleotides (in both DNA and RNA) that codes for a certain amino acid that will be used in the production of a protein during the translation process.

  72. chromosome: double strand of DNA that contains a certain sequence of genes along its structure.

  73. homologous chromosomes: chromosomes that pair during meiosis. have the same structure and gene sequence.

  74. sex chromosomes: chromosomes that have gene(s) related to sex determination.

  75. autosomes: any chromosome that is not a sex chromosome.

  76. centromere: centromere is the region of the chromosome involved in the proper separation of its duplicated carriers (sister chromatids) during cell divisions.

  77. gene: units of genetic inheritance that -in general- are in a specific place of a chromosome or genome. A DNA sequence that is transcribed and has a function in the cell/organism.

  78. genome: the genetic structure and characteristics of a species or individual.

  79. recessive: an allele which is masked by the presence of the dominant. That is, its effects are perceived only if the individual has only recessive alleles for that gene.

  80. dominant: an allele that masks the presence of the recessive allele of the same gene.

  81. pseudogone: a nucleotide sequence in DNA that looks like a gene, but for some reason is not functional.

  82. translation: the process by which a protein is produced according to the instructions of a messenger RNA.

  83. Transcription: process that produces the messenger RNA from the DNA strand that composes a gene.

  84. polymorphism: when a characteristic is controlled by more than one allele in a population, usually by several alleles.

  85. Alternative splicing: a process that allows a gene to produce different types of messenger RNA.

  86. genomics: a subfield of biology that studies organisms from their complete genetic material, including their genes and their functions.

  87. transcriptomics: the study of the RNA transcripts of an individual or species.

  88. phenotype: the observable characteristics of an organism. It is determined by the interaction of the genotype with the environment.

  89. genotype: the genetic characteristics of an organism. It can refer to all the genetic characteristics of the organism, or to the alleles of one or a few genes.

  90. mitosis: cell division of somatic cells that produces daughter cells identical to the mother cell in number and structure/sequence of chromosomes.

  91. meiosis: cell division specialized to produce gametes. the daughter cells have half of the genetic material of the mother cell. It has two stages of cell division.

  92. crossing over or chromosomal recombination: the exchange of genetic material (DNA) between homologous chromosomes during meiosis. It guarantees a greater genetic variation for the offspring.

  93. Genetic recombination: the result of crossing over when a new combination of genes is formed.

  94. somatic (cells or structures): cells or structures of the body that are not or do not produce gametes.

  95. gametes: reproductive cells, usually produced by meiosis and haploid

  96. Zygote: a cell formed by fertilization of the male and female gametes. This cell can develop into a fetus or adult organism/baby.

  97. haploid: refers to the amount of homologous chromosomes in a cell, in which case there is only one of each type of chromosome - no homologs. This is the case for gametes.

  98. diploid: refers to the amount of homologous chromosomes in a cell, in this case there are two of each type of chromosome - a pair of homologs. This is the case for somatic cells in most organisms.

  99. polyploid: refers to the amount of homologous chromosomes in a cell, in which case there are more than two of each type of chromosome - three or more homologs. This is the case in some plants, such as tobacco.

  100. haplotype: a set of genes inherited by the organism from one of its parents.

  101. genotype: the total set of genes of an organism or its genetic profile.

  102. heterozygote: when the alleles of a gene on homologous chromosomes of an organism are not the same.

  103. homozygote: has the same allele for a gene on its chromosomes.

  104. heterogametic: is said of the sex that has two types of sex chromosomes.

  105. homogametic: refers to the sex in which both sex chromosomes are equal/of the same type.

  106. heritability: how much of a phenotype (its variance) is due to the genotype (more specifically, the differences in the genotypes).

  107. sexual dimorphism: when males and females have different phenotypes, often drastically so. It usually occurs due to sexual selection.

  108. evodevo: the informal name for an evolutionary developmental biology that studies evolution from the embryonic development of organisms.

  109. camouflage: when an animal has structures or characteristics that allow it to integrate with its habitat in a way that hides the individual.

  110. mimicry: when one species is similar to another, usually as a way to avoid predation

  111. coevolution: when a species changes in response to changes in another species that interacts with it.

  112. batesian mimicry: when a non-toxic species has the same pattern or colors as a toxic species that is not usually preyed upon by its common predators. (discovered by bates in butterflies in brazil)

  113. Mulerian mimicry: when two or more toxic/repugnant species to one predator are similar.

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