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Vocabulary Word

Word: progenitor

Definition: ancestor


Sentences Containing 'progenitor'

Frantic work of art on the wall pious motto, done on the premises, sometimes in colored yarns, sometimes in faded grasses: progenitor of the`God Bless Our Home'of modern commerce.
As in each fully stocked country natural selection necessarily acts by the selected form having some advantage in the struggle for life over other forms, there will be a constant tendency in the improved descendants of any one species to supplant and exterminate in each stage of descent their predecessors and their original progenitor.
If, however, the modified offspring of a species get into some distinct country, or become quickly adapted to some quite new station, in which offspring and progenitor do not come into competition, both may continue to exist.
In our diagram this is indicated by the broken lines beneath the capital letters, converging in sub-branches downwards towards a single point; this point represents a species, the supposed progenitor of our several new sub-genera and genera.
We may believe that the progenitor of the ostrich genus had habits like those of the bustard, and that, as the size and weight of its body were increased during successive generations, its legs were used more and its wings less, until they became incapable of flight.
When a part has been developed in an extraordinary manner in any one species, compared with the other species of the same genus, we may conclude that this part has undergone an extraordinary amount of modification since the period when the several species branched off from the common progenitor of the genus.
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.
On the other hand, the points in which species differ from other species of the same genus are called specific characters; and as these specific characters have varied and come to differ since the period when the species branched off from a common progenitor, it is probable that they should still often be in some degree variable--at least more variable than those parts of the organisation which have for a very long period remained constant.
This relation has a clear meaning on my view: I look at all the species of the same genus as having as certainly descended from the same progenitor, as have the two sexes of any one species.
Consequently, whatever part of the structure of the common progenitor, or of its early descendants, became variable; variations of this part would, it is highly probable, be taken advantage of by natural and sexual selection, in order to fit the several places in the economy of nature, and likewise to fit the two sexes of the same species to each other, or to fit the males to struggle with other males for the possession of the females.
In a breed which has not been crossed, but in which BOTH parents have lost some character which their progenitor possessed, the tendency, whether strong or weak, to reproduce the lost character might, as was formerly remarked, for all that we can see to the contrary, be transmitted for almost any number of generations.
So that, if the electric organs had been inherited from some one ancient progenitor, we might have expected that all electric fishes would have been specially related to each other; but this is far from the case.
Consequently there is no reason to suppose that they have been inherited from a common progenitor; for had this been the case they would have closely resembled each other in all respects.
For instance, the eyes of Cephalopods or cuttle-fish and of vertebrate animals appear wonderfully alike; and in such widely sundered groups no part of this resemblance can be due to inheritance from a common progenitor.
As two men have sometimes independently hit on the same invention, so in the several foregoing cases it appears that natural selection, working for the good of each being, and taking advantage of all favourable variations, has produced similar organs, as far as function is concerned, in distinct organic beings, which owe none of their structure in common to inheritance from a common progenitor.
But as the vast majority of the species in the above two families, as well as most other crustaceans, are aquatic in their habits, it is improbable in the highest degree that their common progenitor should have been adapted for breathing air.
These organs must have been independently developed, as they could not have been inherited from a common progenitor; and in the several groups they are formed by the modification of the fore legs, of the hind legs, of the maxillae or lips, and of appendages on the under side of the hind part of the body.
But webbed feet no doubt were as useful to the progenitor of the upland goose and of the frigate-bird, as they now are to the most aquatic of living birds.
So we may believe that the progenitor of the seal did not possess a flipper, but a foot with five toes fitted for walking or grasping; and we may further venture to believe that the several bones in the limbs of the monkey, horse and bat, were originally developed, on the principle of utility, probably through the reduction of more numerous bones in the fin of some ancient fish-like progenitor of the whole class.
As in many widely separated families of plants, single species and single genera possess the power of revolving, and have thus become twiners, they must have independently acquired it, and cannot have inherited it from a common progenitor.
Now let us suppose that the ancient progenitor of our European cuckoo had the habits of the American cuckoo, and that she occasionally laid an egg in another bird's nest.
But this is a wholly false view; we should always look for forms intermediate between each species and a common but unknown progenitor; and the progenitor will generally have differed in some respects from all its modified descendants.
Nor should it be forgotten, as before explained, that A might be the actual progenitor of B and C, and yet would not necessarily be strictly intermediate between them in all respects.
For the development by this means of a group of forms, all of which are descended from some one progenitor, must have been an extremely slow process; and the progenitors must have lived long before their modified descendants.
Most of the arguments which have convinced me that all the existing species of the same group are descended from a single progenitor, apply with equal force to the earliest known species.
For all the species of the same group, however long it may have lasted, are the modified descendants one from the other, and all from a common progenitor.
These three families, together with the many extinct genera on the several lines of descent diverging from the parent form (A) will form an order; for all will have inherited something in common from their ancient progenitor.
On the principle of the continued tendency to divergence of character, which was formerly illustrated by this diagram, the more recent any form is the more it will generally differ from its ancient progenitor.
So again, if the three families formed of eight genera (a14 to m14), on the uppermost line, be supposed to differ from each other by half-a-dozen important characters, then the families which existed at a period marked VI would certainly have differed from each other by a less number of characters; for they would at this early stage of descent have diverged in a less degree from their common progenitor.
As these are formed, the species of the less vigorous groups, from their inferiority inherited from a common progenitor, tend to become extinct together, and to leave no modified offspring on the face of the earth.
The more ancient a form is, the more often it stands in some degree intermediate between groups now distinct; for the more ancient a form is, the more nearly it will be related to, and consequently resemble, the common progenitor of groups, since become widely divergent.
But according to the view that all the species of a genus, though distributed to the most remote points of the world, are descended from a single progenitor, we ought to find, and I believe as a general rule we do find, that some at least of the species range very widely.
I request the reader to turn to the diagram illustrating the action, as formerly explained, of these several principles; and he will see that the inevitable result is, that the modified descendants proceeding from one progenitor become broken up into groups subordinate to groups.
So that we here have many species descended from a single progenitor grouped into genera; and the genera into subfamilies, families and orders, all under one great class.
I believe that the ARRANGEMENT of the groups within each class, in due subordination and relation to each other, must be strictly genealogical in order to be natural; but that the AMOUNT of difference in the several branches or groups, though allied in the same degree in blood to their common progenitor, may differ greatly, being due to the different degrees of modification which they have undergone; and this is expressed by the forms being ranked under different genera, families, sections or orders.
As these points of affinity are believed to be real and not merely adaptive, they must be due in accordance with our view to inheritance from a common progenitor.
Therefore, we must suppose either that all Rodents, including the bizcacha, branched off from some ancient Marsupial, which will naturally have been more or less intermediate in character with respect to all existing Marsupials; or that both Rodents and Marsupials branched off from a common progenitor, and that both groups have since undergone much modification in divergent directions.
On either view we must suppose that the bizcacha has retained, by inheritance, more of the character of its ancient progenitor than have other Rodents; and therefore it will not be specially related to any one existing Marsupial, but indirectly to all or nearly all Marsupials, from having partially retained the character of their common progenitor, or of some early member of the group.
For the common progenitor of a whole family, now broken up by extinction into distinct groups and subgroups, will have transmitted some of its characters, modified in various ways and degrees, to all the species; and they will consequently be related to each other by circuitous lines of affinity of various lengths (as may be seen in the diagram so often referred to), mounting up through many predecessors.
If we suppose that an early progenitor--the archetype, as it may be called--of all mammals, birds and reptiles, had its limbs constructed on the existing general pattern, for whatever purpose they served, we can at once perceive the plain signification of the homologous construction of the limbs throughout the class.
So with the mouths of insects, we have only to suppose that their common progenitor had an upper lip, mandibles, and two pairs of maxillae, these parts being perhaps very simple in form; and then natural selection will account for the infinite diversity in structure and function of the mouths of insects.
It must suffice for our purpose to bear in mind that an indefinite repetition of the same part or organ is the common characteristic, as Owen has remarked, of all low or little specialised forms; therefore the unknown progenitor of the Vertebrata probably possessed many vertebrae; the unknown progenitor of the Articulata, many segments; and the unknown progenitor of flowering plants, many leaves arranged in one or more spires.
He proposes to call the structures which resemble each other in distinct animals, owing to their descent from a common progenitor with subsequent modification, "homogenous"; and the resemblances which cannot thus be accounted for, he proposes to call "homoplastic".
For instance, he believes that the hearts of birds and mammals are as a whole homogenous--that is, have been derived from a common progenitor; but that the four cavities of the heart in the two classes are homoplastic--that is, have been independently developed.
Mr. Lankester also adduces the close resemblance of the parts on the right and left sides of the body, and in the successive segments of the same individual animal; and here we have parts commonly called homologous which bear no relation to the descent of distinct species from a common progenitor.
As the embryo often shows us more or less plainly the structure of the less modified and ancient progenitor of the group, we can see why ancient and extinct forms so often resemble in their adult state the embryos of existing species of the same class.
It can, however, be proved true only in those cases in which the ancient state of the progenitor of the group has not been wholly obliterated, either by successive variations having supervened at a very early period of growth, or by such variations having been inherited at an earlier age than that at which they first appeared.
Embryology rises greatly in interest, when we look at the embryo as a picture, more or less obscured, of the progenitor, either in its adult or larval state, of all the members of the same great class.
How simply is this fact explained if we believe that these species are all descended from a striped progenitor, in the same manner as the several domestic breeds of the pigeon are descended from the blue and barred rock-pigeon!
For, as I have recently remarked in regard to the members of each great kingdom, such as the Vertebrata, Articulata, etc., we have distinct evidence in their embryological, homologous, and rudimentary structures, that within each kingdom all the members are descended from a single progenitor.
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