- Also called pedogenesis. the production of offspring by an organism in its larval or juvenile form; the elimination of the adult phase of the life cycle.
- a slowing of the rate of development with the consequent retention in adulthood of a feature or features that appeared in an earlier phase in the life cycle of ancestral individuals: Neoteny in the ostrich has resulted in adult birds sporting the down feathers of nestlings.
Origin of neoteny
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- the persistence of larval or fetal features in the adult form of an animal. For example, the adult axolotl, a salamander, retains larval external gillsSee also paedogenesis
C19: from New Latin neotenia, from Greek neo- + teinein to stretch
Word Origin and History for neotenous
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- The attainment of sexual maturity by an organism still in its larval stage.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
- The retention of juvenile characteristics in the adults of a species. Humans, for example, are sometimes said to demonstrate neoteny by retaining through adulthood the relatively large head and hairlessness characteristic of very young primates. The body proportions of flightless birds, which resemble those of fetal flying birds, are also considered to be evidence of neoteny.
- The attainment of sexual maturity by an organism still in its larval stage, seen in certain amphibians and insects. Certain species of salamanders, for instance, demonstrate neoteny as they become sexually mature but remain aquatic and do not develop legs. Neoteny sometimes occurs in response to environmental stresses such as low temperature or lack of iodine (which is essential for the thyroid gland). If environmental conditions improve, the organism can often develop into a fully mature adult form.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.