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Living fossil is a term coined by Charles Darwin used to describe organisms that appear similar to fossil ancestors. Authors Alexander Werth and William Shear of Hampden-Sydney College show that the term has been unevenly applied to organisms fitting several different but overlapping definitions. They then recount examples from the study of evolution that show time and again that no lineage remains in stasis and that many of these so-called living fossils have evolved. Nevertheless, they argue that this term remains useful, especially in showing how difficult it is to define a species without a clear genetic picture, as is the case with many fossils.

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