From para- (near) +‎ Ancient Greek φῦλον (phûlon, tribe, race) +‎ -etic.


A phylogenetic tree demonstrating how traditional reptiles are a paraphyletic group.

paraphyletic (not comparable)

  1. (systematics) Of a defined group of taxa, not including all descendants of the most recent common ancestor of all members.

Usage notesEdit

  • Paraphyletic groups are not clades and are therefore likely to be superseded by systematic taxonomy, though they may be used for convenience for some time, especially if they correspond to an intuitively appealing group. An example is the lay concept of fish, one definition of which includes mammals, such as whales, as well as sharks, sturgeon, and scaled fish, the common ancestor of which is some ancestral vertebrate, from which amphibians and reptiles are also descended.

Related termsEdit