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Vocabulary Word

Word: generic

Definition: characteristic of an entire class or species; of a genus


Sentences Containing 'generic'

It has often been stated that domestic races do not differ from each other in characters of generic value.
It can be shown that this statement is not correct; but naturalists differ much in determining what characters are of generic value; all such valuations being at present empirical.
When it is explained how genera originate under nature, it will be seen that we have no right to expect often to find a generic amount of difference in our domesticated races.
It is notorious that specific characters are more variable than generic.
To explain by a simple example what is meant: if in a large genus of plants some species had blue flowers and some had red, the colour would be only a specific character, and no one would be surprised at one of the blue species varying into red, or conversely; but if all the species had blue flowers, the colour would become a generic character, and its variation would be a more unusual circumstance.
I have chosen this example because the explanation which most naturalists would advance is not here applicable, namely, that specific characters are more variable than generic, because they are taken from parts of less physiological importance than those commonly used for classing genera.
It would be almost superfluous to adduce evidence in support of the statement, that ordinary specific characters are more variable than generic; but with respect to important characters, I have repeatedly noticed in works on natural history, that when an author remarks with surprise that some important organ or part, which is generally very constant throughout a large group of species, DIFFERS considerably in closely-allied species, it is often VARIABLE in the individuals of the same species.
And this fact shows that a character, which is generally of generic value, when it sinks in value and becomes only of specific value, often becomes variable, though its physiological importance may remain the same.
Or to state the case in another manner: the points in which all the species of a genus resemble each other, and in which they differ from allied genera, are called generic characters; and these characters may be attributed to inheritance from a common progenitor, for it can rarely have happened that natural selection will have modified several distinct species, fitted to more or less widely different habits, in exactly the same manner: and as these so-called generic characters have been inherited from before the period when the several species first branched off from their common progenitor, and subsequently have not varied or come to differ in any degree, or only in a slight degree, it is not probable that they should vary at the present day.
Specific characters--that is, the characters which have come to differ since the several species of the same genus branched off from a common parent--are more variable than generic characters, or those which have long been inherited, and have not differed within this same period.
Considering the nature of the differences between the species in the group which includes the above Ceroxylus, there is nothing improbable in this insect having varied in the irregularities on its surface, and in these having become more or less green-coloured; for in every group the characters which differ in the several species are the most apt to vary, while the generic characters, or those common to all the species, are the most constant.
On this same principle we can understand how it is that specific characters are more variable than generic characters; and how the parts which are developed in an extraordinary degree or manner are more variable than other parts of the same species.
But he who will take the trouble to reflect on the steps by which this first degree of sterility could be increased through natural selection to that high degree which is common with so many species, and which is universal with species which have been differentiated to a generic or family rank, will find the subject extraordinarily complex.
It will suffice to quote the highest authority, Robert Brown, who, in speaking of certain organs in the Proteaceae, says their generic importance, "like that of all their parts, not only in this, but, as I apprehend in every natural family, is very unequal, and in some cases seems to be entirely lost."
Any one of these characters singly is frequently of more than generic importance, though here even, when all taken together, they appear insufficient to separate Cnestis from Connarus."
If species are only well-marked varieties, of which the characters have become in a high degree permanent, we can understand this fact; for they have already varied since they branched off from a common progenitor in certain characters, by which they have come to be specifically distinct from each other; therefore these same characters would be more likely again to vary than the generic characters which have been inherited without change for an immense period.
In the fishery, they usually go by the generic name of Gay-Headers.
The accursed shark alone can in any generic respect be said to bear comparative analogy to him.
A sort of generic or Pantheistic vitality seemed to lurk in their very joints and bones, after what might be called the individual life had departed.
But, besides the application to him of the generic remark above, this carpenter of the Pequod was singularly efficient in those thousand nameless mechanical emergencies continually recurring in a large ship, upon a three or four years' voyage, in uncivilized and far-distant seas.
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