character

Any recognizable trait, feature, or property of an organism. In phylogenetic studies, a character is a feature that is thought to vary independantly of other features, and to be derived from a corresponding feature in a common ancestor of the organisms being studied. A "character state" is one of the possible alternative conditions of the character. For example, "present" and "absent" are two states of the character "hair" in mammals. Similarly, a particular position in a DNA sequence is a character, and A, T, C, and G are its possible states (see bases.)

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