Maladaptation  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A maladaptation is a trait that is (or has become) more harmful than helpful, in contrast with an adaptation, which is more helpful than harmful. All organisms, from bacteria to humans, display maladaptive and adaptive traits. In animals (including humans), adaptive behaviors contrast with maladaptive ones. Like adaptation, maladaptation may be viewed as occurring over geological time, or within the lifetime of one individual or a group.

It can also signify an adaptation that, whilst reasonable at the time, has become less and less suitable and more of a problem or hindrance in its own right, as time goes on. This is because it is possible for an adaptation to be poorly selected or become less appropriate or even become on balance more of a dysfunction than a positive adaptation, over time.

Note that the concept of maladaptation, as initially discussed in a late 19th-century context, is based on a flawed view of evolutionary theory. It was believed that an inherent tendency for an organism's adaptations to degenerate would translate into maladaptations soon become crippling if not "weeded out" (see also Eugenics). In reality, the advantages conferred by any one adaptation are rarely decisive for survival on its own but rather balanced against other synergistic and antagonistic adaptations, which consequently cannot change without affecting others.

In other words, it is usually impossible to gain an advantageous adaptation without incurring "maladaptations". Consider a seemingly trivial example: it is apparently extremely hard for an animal to evolve the ability to breathe well in air and in water. Better adapting to one means being less able to do the other.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Maladaptation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools