American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adj. Of, relating to, or constituting a vestige.
- adj. Biology Occurring or persisting as a rudimentary or degenerate structure.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a vestige; like a mere trace of what has been; also, rudimentary. In biology vestigial has a specific application to those organs or structures which are commonly called
rudimentary, and are rudimentary in fact, but which are properly regarded, not as beginnings or incipient states, but as remains of parts or structures which have been better developed in an earlier stage of existence of the same organism, or in lower preceding organisms, and have aborted or atrophied, or become otherwise reduced or rudimental in the evolution of the individual or of the species. Thus, the parovaria, the canals of Gartner, the male womb, the urachus, and the round ligament of the liver are vestigial structures with reference to the Wolffian bodies and allantois of the fetus: the thymus of the adult is vestigial with reference to that structure in the infant; the vermiform appendix of the colon is vestigial with reference to the very large cæcum of a ruminant; the stunted coracoid process of the scapula of a mammal is a vestigial structure with reference to the large articulated coracoid bone of a bird. Vestigial structures of any kind, or the remains of what has been, are to be carefully distinguished from rudimentary structures, or the beginning of what is to be (as fully explained under rudimentary). They are very significant biological facts, of which much use has been made by Darwin and other modern evolution ists in tracing lines of descent with modification and determining probable ancestry.
- adj. Of or pertaining to a vestige or remnant; like a trace from the past.
- adj. Not fully developed in mature animals.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. Of or pertaining to a vestige or remnant; like a vestige.
- adj. not fully developed in mature animals
- vestige + -al (Wiktionary)
“These rudimentary legs and pelvises are called vestigial structures; they are relics of the whales' common ancestry with their legged cousins.”
“If we only knew enough, we would, no doubt, discover a beneficial use for all the so-called vestigial organs.”
“For Darwin, the economy of nature had a ready explanation in natural selection, and the non-economical aspects of nature, such as vestigial organs, took on great significance.”
“They might have been external gills, some kind of vestigial ornamentation, or a sex attractant.”
“Like our five fingers, our ear-bones, our rudimentary caudal appendage, or our other 'vestigial' peculiarities, they may remain as indelible tokens of events in our race-history.”
“Two recurring examples are: a) it might lead us to think that junk DNA has some important function after all and b) it might similarly lead us to look for the function of so called vestigial organs.15”
“If ID is so down with genetic decay, they wouldn’t resist the idea of vestigial organs.”
““It’s actually called a vestigial caudal appendage,” Helena said, as if that would be helpful.”
“There were enough of them who kept this kind of vestigial Republican loyalty from the Civil War years and the idea that the Republican Party was the party that freed the slaves.”
“A "vestigial" feature is something obselete that's still around -- a.k.a. the old Facebook groups”
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